Breezy and fresh meditation on privacy and relationships in the internet age, with a likable protagonist who would rather...

JUST FOR CLICKS

What is it like to grow up with no privacy because your mother has shared your entire existence on the internet?

Twin sisters Claire and Poppy Dixon (assumed white) have grown up in Gilbert, Arizona—but also in the public eye of millions of strangers thanks to their mother’s incessant mommy blogging. As a high school senior, Claire is disenchanted with her fishbowl existence. The arrival of worldly, well-traveled new student Rafael Alejandro Luna (who is half of Mexican descent and doesn’t know his mother) provides Claire with the opportunity to be “Just Claire” instead of internet famous. Later, after Rafael discovers her online identity, the teens grow closer until Claire feels safe enough to reveal even deeper secrets. In her debut novel, McDowell combines a strong plot with snippets of text, emails, and website comments to deliver a clever meditation on privacy, family, and loyalty. Using a first-person perspective, the novel focuses on topical issues such as phone addiction and social media obsession while also addressing typical teen fare of romance and family drama. The fast-paced action and several surprising plot developments keep the reader’s interest as the tension between Claire and her family mounts and her attraction to the unusually forgiving Rafael grows.

Breezy and fresh meditation on privacy and relationships in the internet age, with a likable protagonist who would rather code than braid her hair for a fashion vlog. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-948705-19-6

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Amberjack Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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The personal and the political intertwine in this engaging series opener.

DEFY THE NIGHT

The only effective treatment for the lethal fever that plagues Kandala is a potion derived from the rare Moonflower.

Medicine is allocated to each sector of the kingdom by the decree of King Harristan, but the supply is limited. Thieves, smugglers, and black marketeers are subject to punishment and execution overseen by the cruel Prince Corrick in his role as the King’s Justice. Like many in Kandala, Tessa Cade loathes the king and his younger brother for ignoring the plight of those who cannot afford treatment. With the help of her close friend Weston, the 18-year-old apothecary’s assistant steals Moonflower petals from the wealthy and makes potions to distribute among the poor. Soon after Wes is caught by the night patrol, Tessa is presented with an opportunity to sneak into the palace. She enters with the intention of taking a sample of the palace’s potent Moonflower elixir only to be captured and brought before Prince Corrick, who, Tessa discovers, might not be as heartless as she originally believed. The slow-burn romance—between an idealist with straightforward moral beliefs and a pragmatist trapped by duty—will keep the pages turning, as will the scheming of the king’s consuls and the rebellion brewing in the background. Tessa and Corrick are cued White; other characters’ skin colors range from beige to deep brown.

The personal and the political intertwine in this engaging series opener. (map, cast of characters) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0466-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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