A thoughtful, engaging novel that combines genres well.

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DREAM ME

In this YA novel, a young man from Earth’s far future visits a present-day teen in her dreams, but soon their connection is threatened.

In a future era in which the Earth is dying, Zat plans a dangerous trip, time traveling to our present by projecting himself into the mind of a teenage girl while she sleeps. That girl, Babe, who’s 17 (roughly Zat’s age), is an adaptable, resourceful person thanks to her father’s job as golf pro, which has caused them to move from state to state—most recently, from California to the Florida Panhandle. Over the summer, Babe learns about another new town, makes some friends, and works in the country club’s tennis shop, and she also begins having recurring dreams of a boy with thick, wavy brown hair and green eyes, who eventually introduces himself as Zat. He seems strangely familiar, and they share a strong bond, making Zat a “dream guy” in every way—except for the crushing headaches Babe has the following day. To herself and on her blog, Babe wonders how Zat can feel “more real and more interesting than anyone…in real life.” But can he achieve corporeality after time travel? And will he have to abandon the trip—and his life—to save Babe from unbearable pain? Berla (12 Hours in Paradise, 2016, etc.) delivers a very entertaining romance with well-thought-out sci-fi elements—one that’s delightfully free of the clichés that so often haunt YA fiction. Both the story’s rich-kid and queen-bee characters defy convention; Babe’s friends have intriguing back stories, and the country-club setting gives the protagonist a chance to make perceptive comments about people and society. For example, while touring a palatial yacht, she remarks, “I knew money didn’t buy happiness, but it was unbelievable what it did buy.” Babe’s blog opens up the story via the sometimes-silly, sometimes-mysterious comments of her readers: one of them wishes she would focus on Florida sightseeing; another, called “DreamMe,” seems strangely knowledgeable about Babe’s situation. The final twist isn’t easy to see coming, and it gives the novel a satisfying, well-earned ending.

 A thoughtful, engaging novel that combines genres well.

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-944995-20-1

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Amberjack Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

ADORKABLE

In O’Gorman’s YA debut, two best friends try to fool people into thinking that they’re in love—and then discover a new facet of their relationship.

Sally Spitz is a frizzy-haired 17-year-old girl with a charming zeal for three things: Harry Potter (she’s a Gryffindor), Star Wars, and getting into Duke University. During her senior year of high school, she goes on a slew of miserable dates, set up by her mother and her own second-best–friend–turned-matchmaker, Lillian Hooker. Sally refuses to admit to anyone that she’s actually head over Converses in love with her longtime best friend, a boy named Baldwin Eugene Charles Kent, aka “Becks.” After a particularly awkward date, Sally devises a plan to end Lillian’s matchmaking attempts; specifically, she plans to hire someone to act as her fake boyfriend, or “F.B.F.” But before Sally can put her plan into action, a rumor circulates that Sally and Becks are already dating. Becks agrees to act as Sally’s F.B.F. in exchange for a box of Goobers and Sally’s doing his calculus homework for a month. Later, as they hold hands in the hall and “practice” make-out sessions in Becks’ bedroom, their friendship heads into unfamiliar territory. Over the course of this novel, O’Gorman presents an inviting and enjoyable account of lifelong friendship transforming into young love. Though the author’s reliance on familiar tropes may be comforting to a casual reader, it may frustrate those who may be looking for a more substantial and less predictable plot. A number of ancillary characters lack very much complexity, and the story, overall, would have benefited from an added twist or two. Even so, however, this remains a largely engaging and often endearing debut. 

A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-759-7

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

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Well-drawn characters and playful twists keep this thriller fully charged.

MALICE

This YA SF novel features a teen who must halt a virus that will kill two-thirds of humanity.

In Silver Oak, Maryland, Alice Sherman is a high school junior enjoying lunch near her campus basketball court. With her is Archie, her brother, a senior and science prodigy who likes equations more than his fellow students. Alice has been Archie’s one true friend since their mother left six years ago. Alice is about to catch up with Lalana Bunyasarn, her best friend, when a sudden “streak of electricity zaps through” her head. The agony intensifies until a Voice enters Alice’s mind, asking her, “Do you want this pain to stop?” The Voice then instructs her to go up to Bandit Sakda, a classmate playing basketball, and say that she loves him. Bandit is a beautiful Thai boy who’s talented and arrogant. Strangely, the Voice calls her Malice and says not to fall for him because “it’ll only make what you have to do later harder.” Eventually, Alice learns that the Voice belongs to someone from 10 years in the future who needs help saving humanity. A virus will be created by a person Alice knows that will wipe out two-thirds of the world population. Following the Voice’s directions can save everyone—except the person Alice is ordered to kill. Dunn’s (Star-Crossed, 2018, etc.) latest YA adventure offers increasingly tantalizing twists that gleam in succession like nested matryoshka dolls. Alice will charm readers with her quirks, especially her devotion to Chris Hemsworth of Marvel’s Avengers films. Tension builds as characters in the large cast, including crushworthy Zeke Cain and the brilliant Cristela Ruiz, become potential targets for Alice’s mission. Details about Thai culture add a splendid dimension to the narrative; for example, Bandit is pronounced “bun-dit” and means “one who is wise.” While the notion of a high school killer may not sit well with some, the author doesn’t use the device lightly. Her book takes a strong anti-bullying stance, doing so through an entertaining narrative that doesn’t resort to preaching. The author’s heart and craftiness make a sequel welcome.

Well-drawn characters and playful twists keep this thriller fully charged.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64063-412-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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