Sure, the plot is inconceivable, but isn’t life? And death? (Fantasy. 14-18)

I WOKE UP DEAD AT THE MALL

A feel-good novel about being dead? Only in this quirky, even romantic story.

Sarah Evans would never be caught dead in mango, until, well, she wakes up dead in a mango chiffon dress at Minnesota’s Mall of America. The 16-year-old New Yorker, the victim of food poisoning intended for her wealthy father, finds herself among other teens, all murdered, from New York City. They become stuck at the mall while they take care of unfinished business in the living world and reconcile their feelings for their new state of being. Unlike her fellow humans (alive or dead), Sarah has a gift, called the Knowing, which allows her to foresee unfortunate events in the future. While she wasn’t able to stop her own mother’s death, she may be able to thwart her new, greedy stepmother’s attempt to kill her father. But she’ll need the help of her fellow mall-mates. Although time and socio-economics would have prevented many of them from knowing one another, they become fast friends. Sarah’s conversational, quick-paced, first-person narrative, full of “deadly” puns and idioms, recounts how she and her new BFFs (even in death?) work together. And when Sarah finds love in the process, she realizes she’s only learned how to live by being dead.

Sure, the plot is inconceivable, but isn’t life? And death? (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-51246-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations.

CARAVAL

From the Caraval series , Vol. 1

Magic, mystery, and love intertwine and invite in this newest take on the “enchanted circus” trope.

Sisters raised by their abusive father, a governor of a colonial backwater in a world vaguely reminiscent of the late 18th century, Scarlett and Donatella each long for something more. Scarlett, olive-skinned, dark of hair and attitude, longs for Caraval, the fabled, magical circus helmed by the possibly evil Master Legend Santos, while blonde, sunny Tella finds comfort in drink and the embraces of various men. A slightly awkward start, with inconsistencies of attitude and setting, rapidly smooths out when they, along with handsome “golden-brown” sailor Julian, flee to Caraval on the eve of Scarlett’s arranged marriage. Tella disappears, and Scarlett must navigate a nighttime world of magic to find her. Caraval delights the senses: beautiful and scary, described in luscious prose, this is a show readers will wish they could enter. Dresses can be purchased for secrets or days of life; clocks can become doors; bridges move: this is an inventive and original circus, laced with an edge of horror. A double love story, one sensual romance and the other sisterly loyalty, anchors the plot, but the real star here is Caraval and its secrets.

Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-09525-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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