Undemanding but enjoyable—an ideal beach read. (Romance. 12-18)

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WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN

From the If Only series , Vol. 1

This debut takes readers to Italy, where 17-year-old Pippa defies her parents’ wishes and secretly takes off on her own.

Her parents were sending her alone to an art school in Florence to learn about classical art so she could follow in her mother’s footsteps and run an art gallery. But she has plenty of euros and no desire to learn about art, wanting instead to see Italy and fall in love with an Italian. In Rome, she meets Darren, an attractive American archaeology student who shows her the Colosseum. Then she meets Chiara, an Italian girl who grew up in America but who lives in the Cinque Terre, where her family has a restaurant and where she invites Pippa to join her. Pippa decides to go—without telling her parents, of course. Complication lurks in the form of Bruno, Chiara’s handsome cousin, who begins to court Pippa aggressively. When Darren arrives, Pippa worries which boy she should choose: Bruno is Italian and hot hot hot, but she’s still attracted to Darren. Meanwhile, her parents still think she’s at school in Florence. While Rae presents an appealing character in Pippa, her evident love of Italy dominates the narrative, making the story feel like an enthusiastic travelogue. Readers will detect early on which boy Pippa will choose, but mild suspense about how that will come about should keep them engaged.

Undemanding but enjoyable—an ideal beach read. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61963-285-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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