THE FLING

Life imitates art in this latest from the author of several clever teen novels (Herb Seasoning, 1990). High school junior and aspiring author Felicia Gordon discovers that incidents in a short story she's writing are anticipating, loosely but definitely, real events. Having described a character based on her friend Allison being led to a sanctuary for young people, Felicia learns that Allison has in fact moved in with older neighbor Kate Mycroft. Al invites Felicia to join her; on arrival she finds two young men in residence—reclusive, wild-looking David Mycroft, who has scars on his wrists, and rich, hunky classmate Malcolm. The ensuing idyll has a Shakespearean air; David and Al sneak out for midnight skinny-dipping, Malcolm and Felicia make out in a garden maze, and the mystery of who David actually is deepens as he and Kate deliver conflicting stories about his scars. Thompson's intelligent cast, frequent literary references (including some oblique ones to his own books), and witty wordplay (``I kept thinking `terra firma' as we ground ourselves against each other,'' Felicia writes) give the tale an ironic, cerebral tone that's well matched to the plot's comic turns but no preparation for the abrupt climax. The finish Felicia pens (her two main characters chuck the men and depart from Sanctuary with a large, lovable dog) seems truer to the rest of the story. An ambiguous, rather dark comedy. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: May 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8050-2881-1

Page Count: 202

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1994

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in...

DEAR MARTIN

In this roller-coaster ride of a debut, the author summons the popular legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to respond to the recent tragic violence befalling unarmed black men and boys.

Seventeen-year-old black high school senior Justyce McAllister, a full-scholarship student at the virtually all-white Braselton Prep, is the focus. After a bloody run-in with the police when they take his good deed for malice, Justyce seeks meaning in a series of letters with his “homie” Dr. King. He writes, “I thought if I made sure to be an upstanding member of society, I’d be exempt from the stuff THOSE black guys deal with, you know?” While he’s ranked fourth in his graduating class and well-positioned for the Ivy League, Justyce is coming to terms with the fact that there’s not as much that separates him from “THOSE black guys” as he’d like to believe. Despite this, Stone seems to position Justyce and his best friend as the decidedly well-mannered black children who are deserving of readers’ sympathies. They are not those gangsters that can be found in Justyce’s neighborhood. There’s nuance to be found for sure, but not enough to upset the dominant narrative. What if they weren’t the successful kids? While the novel intentionally leaves more questions than it attempts to answer, there are layers that still remain between the lines.

Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in the face. Take interest and ask questions. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93949-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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