The occasionally choppy narrative and underdeveloped relationships mark this for fans of Blood and Salt only.

HEART OF ASH

From the Blood and Salt series , Vol. 2

Ash’s transformation into an immortal in Blood and Salt (2015) continues to lead her into both danger and romance.

In the first installment Ash learned that her family is descended from cult members questing for (and occasionally obtaining) immortality. Ash was also briefly possessed by the spirit of an ancient immortal who was seeking revenge on the spirit of her former lover, Coronado. Unfortunately, Coronado’s spirit took up permanent residence in Ash’s love interest, Dane. During this chaotic time, Ash’s twin brother, Rhys, disappeared. Now, a year later, Rhys’ unique blood is being used to assassinate immortals. Ash’s quest to locate Rhys lacks urgency due to her preoccupation with her relationship with Dane—even as murders unfold around her. Meanwhile, Dane claims he can resist Coronado’s attempts to completely control his body, which will undoubtedly sound dubious to readers long before Ash grows suspicious. Overall, Ash’s pattern of ignoring multiple warning signs about the perilousness of her own situation merely slows the pace of the inevitable reveals without adding much suspense. And the narrative also lags as characters rarely display the volatile combination of love and jealousy that supposedly has motivated them to commit atrocities against one another for centuries. Ash is depicted as white on the cover, and the book appears to adhere to the white default.

The occasionally choppy narrative and underdeveloped relationships mark this for fans of Blood and Salt only. (Paranormal romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-16649-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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