Hold tight: You’ll want to stay on this nightmarish roller coaster till the end.

THE GETAWAY

Trapped in an apocalyptic theme park, teens fight back.

Jay has it pretty good, all things considered, in a not-too-distant future absolutely ravaged by droughts, fires, floods, and powder-keg instability. He and his family are live-in employees of Karloff Country, a mountaintop in Virginia taken over by a billionaire family who created their own version of Disneyland as a refuge for their similarly wealthy peers to cavort away from the destruction they helped create. But when the end times loom, Jay realizes that the new guests, the Trustees, are privileged to the point of sociopathy, torturing staff over perceived slights with impunity. Jay rebels along with fellow Karloff Academy seniors Zeke and Connie and Seychelle, his crush and an heir to the Karloff fortune (Chelle’s racist grandfather, Franklin Karloff, hasn’t gotten over her White mom’s having had a biracial Black baby). They’re all fast friends; “the Black kids always find each other.” Narrated through multiple points of view, the novel features Jay’s perspective most prominently, with some interludes from his friends, all presented in Giles’ signature strong, accessible voice. With hints of Cory Doctorow, Jordan Peele, and Richard Matheson, this book stands on its own as a dystopian adventure, but the deeper metaphors around servitude, privilege, class, and solidarity mean that there’s a lot to think about as the characters reckon with their proximity to and complicity in violence both local and far-flung.

Hold tight: You’ll want to stay on this nightmarish roller coaster till the end. (Horror. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-75201-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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A contemporary hero’s journey, brilliantly told.

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SOLO

The 17-year-old son of a troubled rock star is determined to find his own way in life and love.

On the verge of adulthood, Blade Morrison wants to leave his father’s bad-boy reputation for drug-and-alcohol–induced antics and his sister’s edgy lifestyle behind. The death of his mother 10 years ago left them all without an anchor. Named for the black superhero, Blade shares his family’s connection to music but resents the paparazzi that prevent him from having an open relationship with the girl that he loves. However, there is one secret even Blade is unaware of, and when his sister reveals the truth of his heritage during a bitter fight, Blade is stunned. When he finally gains some measure of equilibrium, he decides to investigate, embarking on a search that will lead him to a small, remote village in Ghana. Along the way, he meets people with a sense of purpose, especially Joy, a young Ghanaian who helps him despite her suspicions of Americans. This rich novel in verse is full of the music that forms its core. In addition to Alexander and co-author Hess’ skilled use of language, references to classic rock songs abound. Secondary characters add texture to the story: does his girlfriend have real feelings for Blade? Is there more to his father than his inability to stay clean and sober? At the center is Blade, fully realized and achingly real in his pain and confusion.

A contemporary hero’s journey, brilliantly told. (Verse fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-310-76183-9

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Blink

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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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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