SMALL AVALANCHES

AND OTHER STORIES

Twelve stories, twelve girls—each different from the next, each pitting its teen protagonist against age to define herself. In “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,” Connie, secure in her 15-year-old sexuality finds herself simultaneously drawn to and repelled by the mysterious and older Arnold Friend. Looking back from age, Claire recalls the world-altering moment she discovered the treachery of assumptions of safety (“Why Don’t You Come Live with Me It’s Time”). A popular girl frees herself from popularity just in time for adulthood in “Life After High School.” In all the stories, Oates (Big Mouth and Ugly Girl, 2002, etc.) explores the twin impulses of attraction and repulsion teens experience when contemplating age and its immediacy. Even as the individual stories examine the fluidity and relative nature of age, as a collection, they move across time and space, setting themselves both in a mid-20th-century past that is free from nostalgia and in a coolly hip present. Structurally, the most elliptical and untraditionally told stories open the collection, challenging readers with shifting perspectives, unreliable narrators, and a variety of narrative styles not frequently seen in teen literature. In doing so, this collection demands total engagement with the text; by denying readers easy identification with character and plot, it demands that readers encounter its ideas on its own terms. This challenging beginning has the effect of making some of the later, more straightforwardly told stories seem anticlimactic and almost pedestrian, as with a rather ordinary story of a girl’s first “Visit” to her grandmother in an Alzheimer’s-care facility. It will also have the effect of turning off less sophisticated and determined readers, but those who stay with the collection will be rewarded by haunting images, masterfully controlled language, the occasional light touch of fantasy, and no easy lessons. (Short stories. YA)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-001217-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun...

DOROTHY MUST DIE

When a cyclone deposits a 21st-century Kansas teen in Oz, she and readers discover there’ve been some changes made.

Dirt-poor “Salvation Amy” Gumm lives in a trailer park, effectively parenting her alcoholic mom (her dad ran off years ago), who seems to care more about her pet rat, Star, than her daughter. That doesn’t mean Amy is eager to be in Oz, particularly this Oz. Tyrannized by a megalomaniacal Dorothy and mined of its magic, it’s a dystopian distortion of the paradise Baum and MGM depicted. In short order, Amy breaks the wholly capricious laws and is thrown into a cell in the Emerald City with only Star for company. There, she’s visited first by the mysterious but sympathetic Pete and then by the witch Mombi, who breaks her out and takes her to the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked (among whom is the very hot Nox). Amy may well be the salvation of Oz—only someone from the Other Place can take Dorothy down. Paige has clearly had the time of her life with this reboot, taking a dystopian-romance template and laying it over Oz. Readers of Baum’s books will take special delight in seeing new twists on the old characters, and they will greet the surprise climactic turnabout with the smugness of insiders.

In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun than many of its ilk. (Dystopian fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-228067-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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