An also-ran in the genre; for a far more nuanced, philosophical examination of life and death, readers interested in reaping...

REAPER

A white teenage girl discovers she must reap souls after she dies.

Rosie Wolfe is 15 when she is fatally struck by a truck. She wakes up in a purgatorial hospital where she is informed that she must reap three souls before she is allowed to move on to paradise to join her father. After a makeover and some classes on how to collect souls, Rosie is sent back to live with Martha, a white reaper mentor. Rosie quickly breaks several reaper rules by crushing on a neighborhood Latino boy and trying to find her mother. She successfully reaps two adult souls but is conflicted about the third, a young girl that has been assigned to Rosie as punishment for her defiance. Will Rosie be able to finish the job? Some readers may cease to care due to the weak worldbuilding, in which the afterlife is stereotypically rendered as a nondescript hospital or office building, and the thinly drawn characters, who are mostly defined by their skin and hair color. Convenient coincidences (Martha was also Rosie’s father’s mentor; Rosie eats in a diner where her old best friend is now a waitress) further diminish an already prosaic plot.

An also-ran in the genre; for a far more nuanced, philosophical examination of life and death, readers interested in reaping should consider Neal Shusterman’s erudite Scythe (2016) instead. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7196-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Flat secondary characterizations and humdrum dialogue won’t keep teens from relishing this histrionic tale of love, death...

THE EDGE OF FALLING

Wealthy high school junior Mcalister “Caggie” Caulfield seeks relief from grief over her younger sister’s death by entering into a dangerous relationship with a mysterious boy.

After her little sister drowns in the pool at her family’s beach house in the Hamptons, Caggie wants to die too, to the point that she contemplates jumping off the roof at a friend’s party in Manhattan. A schoolmate named Kristen saves her at the last minute but nearly falls herself. Caggie actually ends up pulling Kristen back and is credited as a hero, which only makes her feel worse. In her grief, Caggie spurns the attentions of her best friend and devoted boyfriend, but she finds a kindred spirit in Astor, a tall, dark and damaged new boy at school who recently lost his mother to cancer. But what Caggie comes to realize about her relationship with Astor is that “[d]arkness stacked on darkness just makes it that much harder to find the light.” After another nearly fatal disaster with Astor at the beach house, Caggie is forced to confront the falsehoods she has told her family and friends and let go of her guilt over her sister’s death. Though Caggie makes a point of telling readers that her paternal grandfather called people like her “phony,” almost nothing is made of the connection to Catcher in the Rye, and it serves merely to make Caggie’s tale suffer by comparison.

Flat secondary characterizations and humdrum dialogue won’t keep teens from relishing this histrionic tale of love, death and lies. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-3316-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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