Confusing choices in setting and characterization tarnish an otherwise entertaining heist thriller.

THE DECEIVERS

From the Vale Hall series , Vol. 1

YA veteran Simmons (Pacifica, 2018, etc.) puts a new twist on mythic roots in her newest addition.

Brynn Hilder is a struggling high school student on the south side of Sikawa City, a place so clearly based on Chicago one wonders why the name has been changed when others were not. When not in school or working as a cleaner at the library, she runs a side hustle as a con artist, saving money for college and a chance to escape the crime, drugs, and violence of her neighborhood. Recruited to attend Vale Hall, an elite, secretive prep school, with an opportunity for a college scholarship, Brynn must be willing to deal in subterfuge. Astute readers will quickly recognize the allusions to Norse mythology and Brunhild the Valkyrie, though Vale students do not collect souls for Odin but rather secrets for their mysterious benefactor to wield as leverage against corruption in high places. True to the Norse source material, there is no clear battle between good and evil but rather layered shades of gray and moral ambiguity. Bemusingly, Brynn is described as Colombian on her father’s side, evidenced only by a reference to her skin tone (her mother is assumed white); the portrayal is lacking in recognizable cultural texture and depth.

Confusing choices in setting and characterization tarnish an otherwise entertaining heist thriller. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-17579-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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