A somber tale that will make teens think twice.

ABSENT

Three dead teens “[s]ettle in for the world’s longest detention” in this melancholy ghost story.

Paige Wheeler died at 17 when she fell off the roof of the school during a misguided science experiment. Now trapped on the school grounds as a ghost, Paige spends her time drifting the halls with Brooke and Evan, two other ethereal teens. Paige is troubled by the rumor that she jumped instead of fell, and when she discovers she can inhabit the body of anyone who is thinking about her, she tries to use the ability to clear her name. But many of the attempts backfire, especially when it comes to making her best friend Usha paint a memorial mural of her or getting her “secret” hookup Lucas to admit that he and Paige were together. Paige’s regret that she accepted less than the very best for herself will be a sobering reminder to readers not to take opportunities and relationships for granted. “What if I hadn’t wasted my time—myself—on a guy who was only around for kisses in the trees?” Mostly a moody meditation on adolescent afterlife, the story morphs into a thriller when Paige discovers a vicious secret about one of her fellow spirits, which leads to an unexpectedly transcendent and moving finale.

A somber tale that will make teens think twice. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8118-7150-1

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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Only marginally intriguing.

REDEMPTION PREP

In a remote part of Utah, in a “temple of excellence,” the best of the best are recruited to nurture their talents.

Redemption Preparatory is a cross between the Vatican and a top-secret research facility: The school is rooted in Christian ideology (but very few students are Christian), Mass is compulsory, cameras capture everything, and “maintenance” workers carry Tasers. When talented poet Emma disappears, three students, distrusting of the school administration, launch their own investigation. Brilliant chemist Neesha believes Emma has run away to avoid taking the heat for the duo’s illegal drug enterprise. Her boyfriend, an athlete called Aiden, naturally wants to find her. Evan, a chess prodigy who relies on patterns and has difficulty processing social signals, believes he knows Emma better than anyone. While the school is an insidious character on its own and the big reveal is slightly psychologically disturbing, Evan’s positioning as a tragic hero with an uncertain fate—which is connected to his stalking of Emma (even before her disappearance)—is far more unsettling. The ’90s setting provides the backdrop for tongue-in-cheek technological references but doesn’t do anything for the plot. Student testimonials and voice-to-text transcripts punctuate the three-way third-person narration that alternates among Neesha, Evan, and Aiden. Emma, Aiden, and Evan are assumed to be white; Neesha is Indian. Students are from all over the world, including Asia and the Middle East.

Only marginally intriguing. (Mystery. 15-18)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266203-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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An inspiring, powerful tale of belonging.

CAZADORA

From the Wolves of No World series , Vol. 2

The follow-up to Lobizona (2020) sees its protagonist’s fight for equality and acceptance reach new heights.

After the events of the first book, Manu and her friends flee their magical school and are on the run to avoid the Cazadores who aim to capture anyone who doesn’t conform to the stringent gender binary laws of their world. Manu, as the first ever known female werewolf and a Septimus/human hybrid to boot, could lose her life if she’s discovered. Illegal in both worlds, Manu’s only chance is to find the Coven, a legendary underground movement of outcasts who she hopes will welcome them with open arms. Once she meets the people of the Coven, Manu encounters a world full of Septimus who are willing to risk anything for change. But how far is Manu willing to go? In this effervescent sequel full of magic and beautiful imagery, Manu learns to reclaim her own narrative and, together with her lovable found family, including misfits Saysa and Cata as well as boyfriend Tiago, stake out a place in the world where she belongs. Refreshingly, Manu and her friends are not presented as uniquely positioned to change the world: They join a multigenerational, ongoing fight against oppression that aims to give voice to the nonconforming voiceless. All characters are Argentine, with a variety of skin tones, gender identities, and sexualities.

An inspiring, powerful tale of belonging. (Paranormal. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-23915-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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