The cliffhanger ending is merely an abrupt pause in the action—this chapter is essentially just scene-setting for the...

THE HEIR

From the Selection series , Vol. 4

Cass’ bestselling Selection trilogy is now a series, with the fourth installment picking up 20 years after The One (2014).

Narrated by Eadlyn, the 18-year-old firstborn of King Maxon and Queen America and the next in line for the throne of Illéa, the tale perpetuates the same stiff dialogue and obvious premise of its predecessors, though there is a tiny twist to the latter. This time, it’s "The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games meets The Taming of the Shrew." Eadlyn is a practical princess, primarily concerned with preparing to one day rule the country. From the get-go, readers are bludgeoned with evidence that in her focus on leadership, she is too brusque and insensitive, both with the people closest to her and the wider national population. Her family makes the case that provincial unrest will be quelled if she would just stop being a ballbreaker, find a husband, and give the masses a distraction-cum-reason to love the monarchy again. “You can be brave and still be feminine…you can be queen and still be a bride,” her twin brother assures her. Thus is Eadlyn strong-armed into participating in a Selection of her own, and the broadly drawn novel is primarily concerned with setting up most of the contenders to be a 50-50 shot. After dispatching the low-hanging fruit, she winds up with a group of “loud, strange boys” who “all matter” to her.

The cliffhanger ending is merely an abrupt pause in the action—this chapter is essentially just scene-setting for the inevitable continuation(s). (Dystopian romance. 13 & up)

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-234985-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2015

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An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development.

I KISSED SHARA WHEELER

A romance with solid queer representation set against the backdrop of an Alabama Christian school.

Chloe Green is the only one who sees through Shara Wheeler’s goody-two-shoes act, and now that Shara’s pulled a disappearing act right before being crowned prom queen, she makes it her business to find her. This means teaming up with unlikely allies like Smith Parker, Shara’s jock boyfriend, and Rory Heron, the brooding boy next door, both in love with Shara, just as Chloe claims she is not. What brings the trio together is a series of notes Shara has left them, along with the awkward fact that she kissed all three of them before vanishing. McQuiston’s YA debut starts off as a fun page-turner with a rich cast of queer characters but ultimately disappoints with its predictable plot twists and protagonists whose journeys feel lackluster. In a story that uplifts the importance of friendship and found family, the main character’s tunnel vision and indifference toward her friends’ problems make for an ending that doesn’t feel earned. Rather than coming across as a complicated but earnest love interest, Shara feels superficial and narcissistic, raising the question of why so many people drop everything to pursue her. Shara and Chloe are White; Rory has a White mom and Black dad, and Smith is described as having dark brown skin. Bisexual Chloe has two moms.

An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development. (author’s note) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-24445-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers.

YOU'VE REACHED SAM

Technology prevails over death, giving a teenage couple a second chance at goodbye.

High school senior Julie is paralyzed with grief over her boyfriend Sam’s death in a car accident. She avoids his funeral and throws away every reminder of him. They had planned to leave their small Pacific Northwest town together, and she now faces an uncertain and empty future. But one night she impulsively dials his cell, and, inexplicably, Sam answers. This is the first of many long conversations they have, neither understanding how or why this is happening but relishing the chance to say goodbye as they could not in life. However, Julie faces a difficult choice: whether or not to alleviate the pain of Sam’s loved ones by allowing them to talk to him, though it could put their own connection at risk. Yet, letting go and moving on might be just what she needs. The emotional tenor of the book is even throughout, making the characters feel remote at times and flattening the impact of momentous events—such as Julie and Sam’s first conversation—that are often buried in minor, day-in-the-life details. The time skips can also be difficult to follow. But the concept is a smart one and is sure to intrigue readers, especially those grappling with separation, loss, and mortality. Sam is cued as Japanese American; Julie defaults to White.

A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76203-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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