Unsurprising and overlong.


Romance blossoms across class lines.

Even though he didn’t commit the crime he was accused of, Drix—short for Hendrix—has spent 10 months (confusingly and frequently called a year) in a special program to end the school-to-prison pipeline, started by the governor as part of his bid for the U.S. Senate. Elle, full name Ellison, is the governor’s daughter, expected by her ultracontrolling parents to be a perfect blue-eyed blonde political accessory. After a meet-cute with looming menace, the two white teens are drawn to each other. Drix knows Elle deserves the best, aka better than him (a confusing mirror of her parents’ attitude), and dating her could destroy his second chance. Elle doesn’t think so, and throughout the overstuffed, repetitious narrative, she works to change Drix’s mind and prove to her parents she is committed to her envisioned future as a coder. Their romance is put to the test when Drix discovers who truly committed the crime he did the time for and Elle tries to intercede. Although the perils of the school-to-prison pipeline and life in politics are constantly told, they are rarely shown, causing little emotional impact. Further undercutting the romance is Elle’s petulant naiveté, which jars against Drix’s didactic approach.

Unsurprising and overlong. (Romance. 14-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-373-21237-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.


Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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It’s imaginative enough, but it lacks the convincing philosophical worldbuilding essential to successful fantasy.


From the Temple of Doubt series , Vol. 1

A fantasy series opener pits adolescent angst against an all-powerful religion.

Living in Port Sapphire, on the island of New Meridian in the world of Kuldor, almost-16-year-old Hadara chafes under the tenets of a religion headed by the god Nihil that teaches that magic is superior to anything in nature. Since Hadara and her mother continue the passed-down-in-the-female-line family business of concocting healing potions from plants, the two are regarded with suspicion even as their services are sought out by townspeople. When an object falls from the sky into the marsh, Azwans (mages of Nihil) and their oversized Feroxi guards arrive to investigate, complicating things for Hadara and her family, not least because Hadara begins to have feelings for one of the guards. Although Hadara is a delightfully pert narrator, the story’s foremost tension—her subversive doubt of Nihil’s tenets—fails to reach its full potential because the religious concepts are not convincingly clear enough to weave themselves inextricably into the story. Levy shines brightest in her potent descriptions of settings and her imaginative scenes. Continuity, however, is a recurring problem. Among other lapses, the first two chapters seem to be two separate beginnings.

It’s imaginative enough, but it lacks the convincing philosophical worldbuilding essential to successful fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63220-427-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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