An excellent read.

READ REVIEW

AGNES AT THE END OF THE WORLD

The story of a 16-year-old’s journey to freedom at the end of the world.

Raised in the ranch commune of Red Creek, Agnes has always followed the Prophet’s adage, “perfect obedience produces perfect faith.” With a mother in the depths of depression, Agnes dutifully takes care of her father and younger siblings and the household chores; she is the perfect follower. Her one sin is the lifesaving insulin she receives from Matilda, an Outsider nurse, for her brother Ezekiel, who has Type 1 diabetes. Agnes’ 15-year-old sister Beth is her complete opposite—questioning the cult’s strict laws for women and sneaking around with a boy. Events ramp up as Agnes becomes aware of the Prophet’s lies and a viral pandemic ravages the outside world. As the Prophet forces his followers into an underground bunker, Agnes realizes she must leave with Ezekiel. With the help of Matilda’s son, Danny, who exposes them to life outside, and prayers in which Agnes communes with God, they escape into a dying world. The novel unfolds in chapters alternating between Agnes’ and Beth’s perspectives, blending science fiction with the harsh realities of life in a cult. The ornate, complex text takes readers through Agnes’ and Beth’s journeys of reconciling their faith and desires, imbuing the well-rounded characters with purpose. Residents of Red Creek are white; Danny and Matilda are black.

An excellent read. (map, author’s note) (Dystopian. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-48733-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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