Random violence and mistaken passion find a bleak end

NOBODY BUT US

Desperate to escape her violent father, 15-year-old Zoe agrees to run away with her 18-year-old boyfriend, Will.

Their plans go awry almost at once, when Zoe’s father attempts to prevent their flight. Will solves this problem as he always does: with his fists. With one eye on the rearview mirror and the other on his adoring co-pilot, Will steers them into the night and away from a life they both dearly want to leave far behind. However, as the miles tick by, Zoe and Will are forced to confront both their pasts and their dreams of the future. Will’s violence escalates throughout the journey, culminating in a death. The novel is told in their alternating first-person, present-tense voices, giving readers immediate access to each character’s thoughts and emotions. At 15, Zoe’s naïveté about the consequences of their actions feels age-appropriate. However, Will clearly understands the legal and moral ramifications of their plans. This disparity makes it unclear whether Will is really the savior that Zoe imagines or simply the reiteration of her father, as she fears. Unfortunately, as the journey reaches its tragic end, Will’s intentions remain confused. This ambiguity makes Zoe’s parting thoughts either the appropriate tribute to a brave friend or the misguided veneration of a predator.

Random violence and mistaken passion find a bleak end . (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-212126-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist.

LOCK THE DOORS

A blended family seeks a fresh start in a new home.

Tom’s mother believes that the family may have finally found happiness. After years of dating losers, she’s finally settled down with a nice guy—and that nice guy, Jay, happens to have a daughter, Nia, who is just a little older than Tom. The new family has moved into a nice new house, but Tom can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong. They discover a strange message written on the wall when they are stripping the old wallpaper, and there’s clear evidence that the previous owners had installed locks on the exteriors of the bedroom doors. Those previous owners happen to live a little farther down the street, and Tom quickly becomes obsessed with their teenage daughter, Amy, and the secrets she’s hiding. This obsession unfortunately becomes a repetitive slog involving many pages of Tom’s brooding and sulking over the same bits of information while everyone tells him to move on. Readers will be on everyone’s side. But then, a blessed breath of fresh air: The perspective shifts to Amy, and readers learn in spectacularly propulsive fashion exactly what she’s hiding. Regret and intrigue blend perfectly as Amy divulges her secrets. Alas, we return to navel-gazing Tom for the book’s final pages, and everything ends with a shrug. Main characters default to White.

A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72823-189-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more