A solid blend of swoonworthy moments and minor injustices.

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DATE ME, BRYSON KELLER

A dare sets up a gay teen with his school’s star athlete.

Kai never intended to come out of the closet—at least not until going off to college. But when detention presents a surprising opportunity, Kai kicks “the closet door open” and asks his classmate Bryson out. Because of a dare, Bryson must date a new person each week. He says yes to Kai. The catch? Each relationship only lasts from Monday until the final bell on Friday. Kai decides to keep everything a secret—even from his best friends, Priya and Donny. The more time Kai and Bryson spend together—rehearsing their drama scene, seeing their favorite band in LA—the more the boys’ fake relationship starts to feel very real. But will it last after Friday? Or will Bryson move on to the next dare date? Like Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2014), this #ownvoices debut is scrupulously romantic. The plot is deliciously heavy on fluff, but it also delves into more complex subjects like faith, racism, and homophobia. Kai’s lighthearted first-person narration and the lovable cast of characters keep the momentum going. Kai is mixed race, with a white mother and a biracial (black/white) South African dad who occasionally slips in Afrikaans phrases. Bryson, who is white, may be the poster child, but his questioning sexuality and family troubles add dimension.

A solid blend of swoonworthy moments and minor injustices. (author's note) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12603-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Random House

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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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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