Refreshing characters bring new life to classic romance tropes.

MY EPIC SPRING BREAK (UP)

A spring break full of disappointment, bad choices, romance, tattoos—and self-realization.

High school junior Ashley’s ultimate goal is to leave Brooklyn behind and achieve success as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. Between being a mathlete, belonging to a coding club, and tutoring classmates in math, she has been doing everything she can to prove to colleges that she’s dedicated to studying STEM. Ashley believes she’ll have no trouble landing a summer internship with the popular social media platform ZigZag. However, her two-week spring break is off to a poor start when they send her a rejection letter. Frustrated with having tried to do everything right, when she runs into her crush, Walker, she decides to put herself out there and have more fun. Jason, Ashley’s lifelong friend and literal boy next door, warns her that Walker is bad news, however. When Jason joins Ashley’s coding team for a spring break hackathon, she starts to see something special in the boy who has been there all along. Ashley comes across as authentic and driven—but not consumed—by her ambitions, and the role of STEM in the story is both natural and noteworthy. Ashley’s sometimes-misguided choices feel genuine, and her disappointments real. Main characters are White by default; surnames indicate some diversity in the supporting cast.

Refreshing characters bring new life to classic romance tropes. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18011-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Underlined

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A slo-mo environmental disaster story.

THE NATURE OF WITCHES

Weather witches confront climate change in this fantasy.

Clara Densmore is her generation’s sole Everwitch and is unwilling to embrace her powers. Unlike the male and female autumn, winter, spring, and summer witches, whose powers peak during their respective seasons, Clara thrives year-round. At the Eastern School of Solar Magic in Pennsylvania, 17-year-old Clara shuns friendships and only does short-term flings, as her love can be lethal and has already killed her parents and best friend. Losing her powers seems like the selfless solution, but nonmagical shaders have pushed the planet too far with their environmental destruction. Seasonal witches are starting to die amid accelerated natural disasters—and only Clara can save the world. A budding romance with magical mentor/visiting botany student 18-year-old Sang Park from California helps Clara bloom. Redheaded, blue-eyed Clara is cued as White, and Sang is Korean American—but race, class, and other identity-related concerns are rarely a factor in this world. Debut author Griffin unfortunately fails to breathe new life into chosen one fantasy tropes—the obligatory villain, the unavoidable romance, the overly dramatic sacrifice—but excels at lush and lovely descriptions of nature and the weather and delivers a stern, if heavy-handed, message about environmental consequences of modern living.

A slo-mo environmental disaster story. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-942-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends.

RED QUEEN

From the Red Queen series , Vol. 1

Amid a war and rising civil unrest, a young thief discovers the shocking power within her that sparks a revolution.

At 17, Mare knows that without an apprenticeship or job, her next birthday will bring a conscription to join the war. She contributes to her poor family’s income the only way she can, stealing from the Silvers, who possess myriad powers and force her and her fellow Reds into servitude. The Silvers literally bleed silver, and they can manipulate metal, plants and animals, among many other talents. When Mare’s best friend, Kilorn, loses his job and is doomed to conscription, she is determined to change his fate. She stumbles into a mysterious stranger after her plan goes awry and is pulled out of her village and into the world of Silver royalty. Once inside the palace walls, it isn’t long before Mare learns that powers unknown to red-blooded humans lie within her, powers that could lead a revolution. Familiar tropes abound. Mare is revealed as a great catalyst for change among classes and is groomed from rags to riches, and of course, seemingly kind characters turn out to be foes. However, Aveyard weaves a compelling new world, and Mare and the two men in her life evolve intriguingly as class tension rises. Revolution supersedes romance, setting the stage for action-packed surprises.

An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-231063-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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