BLOODY JACK

Posing as a lad in the late 1790s, a spunky orphan girl secures a job as a ship’s boy in the British Navy, a position that becomes compromised by her evolving maturity and love for a fellow crewmember. Meyer, a debut novelist, has penned a rousing old-time girl’s adventure story, with an outsized heroine who is equal parts gutsy and vulnerable, then sets her loose on a pirate-hunting vessel in the high seas. The novel is full of action and derring-do, but the real suspense is generated by maintaining what the heroine calls “The Deception,” her disguise as a boy. Initially, it’s fairly easy because Jacky, as the heroine decides to call herself, is as flat-chested, hairless, and high-voiced as the rest of the boys. She simulates using the ship’s head, imitating the boys’ “shake-and-wiggle action” and even creates a faux penis out of cloth under her drawers, so that she’s as “well rigged out” as the rest of the lads. Clever and courageous, Jacky deals with both the ship’s bully and pedophile, fights pirates valiantly, and manages to save the day for her shipmates, enabling them to secure the buccaneers’ booty. Jacky is such a marvelous creation that the other characters feel shadowy in comparison, and the least engaging parts of the novel involve her secret romance with a fellow ship’s boy. Capped by a fitting but bittersweet ending, the first-person narrative shines, and a wealth of historical research is seamlessly knitted into the material. A first-rate read. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-15-216731-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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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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THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY

Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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