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Hormones, hearing and “Deafness 101” collide to form Schrocke’s offbeat novel.

When a beautiful girl ignores the catcalls of Mika’s horny friend, Claudio, and walks into traffic, Mika stops obsessing about his breakup with catty aspiring singer Sandra for a second. When he meets the girl at the Freak City cafe, he realizes that Leah is deaf. Undaunted, he begins learning sign language in hopes of a relationship, but the stress of negotiating the Deaf and hearing divide might send him running to Sandra. Boys particularly might relate to Mika’s alcohol-and-hormone–fueled insights, and his exasperated love for his little sister, Iris, lends a realistic touch of humor. Trivia buff Leah’s portrayal is less successful, mostly accomplished through the device that finds other characters reciting facts about deafness. Still, she’s agreeably feisty, and her frustration with her nonsigning family rings painfully true. Subplots, such as Mika’s father’s extreme disdain for signing and hints of an affair, dangle. Numerous clichés and awkward slang, perhaps a result of translation from German, frequently distract from the narrative, but insertions of apropos We Are Heroes lyrics and a performance by real-life deaf rapper Signmark enliven the proceedings.

Antony John’s Five Flavors of Dumb (2010) expresses the Deaf/hearing culture clash with more attitude, but this outing adequately captures the aches and dilemmas of new relationships. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62324-005-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scarlet Voyage/Enslow

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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