A hard-hitting thriller that misses the mark when it comes to emotional impact.

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TABULA RASA

From the Tabula Rasa Saga series , Vol. 1

After her memories are surgically erased, one teenage girl fights to recover her identity during a brutal attack on the hospital she’s trapped in.

At a mysterious medical center tucked among snow-covered mountains, Sarah receives the tabula rasa treatment, or removal of all past memories, for severe PTSD. Orderlies hint that patients are either “victims” or “perpetrators.” Though Sarah remembers nothing of her past, including her appearance, she suspects she falls into the latter category. When a power outage interrupts her surgery, a figure in the darkness slips her three pills and instructions. Soon, the center is thrown into chaos as soldiers suddenly attack, and Sarah flees her room, taking up with a teenage hacker sent to retrieve information. As Sarah’s memories return in uncontrollable bursts, she pieces together her parents’ twisted fate and her role in an attempt to bring down a corporate empire, all while avoiding rampant gunfire and falling perilously in love. The action ramps up quickly and never slows, creating a thriller with made-for-movies imagery. Lippert-Martin attempts to draw Sarah as a tough-as-nails heroine, but a hokey love story undermines her gumption. The back story that should be a rewarding reveal instead reads as an excuse for the cartoonish villain’s rampage.

A hard-hitting thriller that misses the mark when it comes to emotional impact. (Thriller. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60684-518-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Egmont USA

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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