MIDDLE GROUND

In this sequel to Awaken (2011), Maddie’s rebellion against digital school and social networking run amok land her in a detention center where detainees are conditioned to fear physical contact and transformed into pliant consumers content to conduct their lives online.

In 2060, Americans live an increasingly virtual existence (think "Half-Life"). Kids attend school from the safety of their bedrooms. Nightclub partygoers dance and interact through sophisticated digital avatars. Online funerals console the bereaved through forums and photos, rather than the warmth of human contact. Incarcerated, Maddie stubbornly fights the powerful conditioning. She’s supported by allies new and old, especially charismatic rebel Justin, her romantic and political partner in the fight to experience the sensory world directly. Over time, Maddie grows weaker; continued resistance results in an ever-longer sentence that she’s unlikely to survive. Independent, courageous and immensely likable, Maddie is the heart of this story. Human contact unmediated by sterile, digitized perfection is messy, imperfect and even dangerous, but she’s willing to pay the price. If Kacvinsky’s wider worldbuilding remains sketchy, with frustratingly few panoramic shots of the culture at large, there are compensations. Seen in close-up, Maddie’s sensuous, suspenseful voyage of discovery offers an intense, emotionally charged snapshot of the future that’s rare in science fiction. Lyrical, provocative, passionate and thought-provoking. (Science fiction/romance. 12 & up)  

 

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-86336-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Han’s impressive ear for and pitch-perfect reproduction of the interactions between not-quite-adult older teens make this an...

WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE SUMMER

Can teenage love ever be forever?

Isabel (Belly) from The Summer I Turned Pretty (2009) and It’s Not Summer Without You (2010) finishes up her freshman year at college somewhat unconvincingly committed to Jeremiah Fisher, one of the two brothers with whom she has spent summers since she was small. Isabel becomes furious to learn that Jeremiah had sex with another girl from their college in Cabo on spring break, but he wins back her affections with a grand gesture: a proposal of marriage. Caught up in the idea—she will plan a summer wedding! they will attend college as a married couple!—Isabel tries ignores her misgivings about Jeremiah, the appalled silence of her mother and her own still-strong feelings for Jeremiah’s older brother, Conrad. It’s both funny and believable when Jeremiah insists he wants to dance the wedding dance to “You Never Can Tell” from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. Han gives a satisfying nod to wedding-planning fantasies even while revealing their flimsy basis for an actual marriage. A final chapter in 23-year-old Isabel’s voice reveals the not-so-surprising happy ending.

Han’s impressive ear for and pitch-perfect reproduction of the interactions between not-quite-adult older teens make this an appealing conclusion to this trilogy romance among bright middle-class young people. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: May 3, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9558-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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