An action-packed love story with even more twists and turns than its prequel.

REBELS DIVIDED

In Erlick’s sequel to The Rebel Within (2013), tensions mount even higher when a young girl and boy begin an illicit relationship in a female-ruled society.

Followers of the series will be more than happy to find Annabelle Scott just as feisty and zealous as she was when last they saw her. Before she’s sent on a high-priority mission to capture a boy dangerous to their female-dominated, sexist society, she learns in a surprise twist that she’s to be part of an arranged marriage with Thane Edwards in order for the region of Tenn-tucky to make an alliance with the Outland, Thane’s people. Disgusted by this, Annabelle goes on her mission along with her beloved sister, Janine, and her former nemesis, Dara. Everything takes a turn for the worse when Janine is captured by the Rangers, a brutal, hostile male force in the Outland. The Rangers leave Annabelle with no choice but to take off her mech suit, thus losing nearly all her power. She wakes up on Thane Edwards’ estate and narrowly escapes before finding refuge with Geo, her adopted mother’s biological son who’s also a freedom fighter against both the Rangers and Tenn-tucky’s sexist, militaristic rule. After Geo loses his father to the Rangers, he and Annabelle hesitantly come to trust and rely on each other, as Annabelle desperately searches for her sister and Geo wishes to avenge his father’s death. They come to realize that much more holds them together than they initially thought. Like its prequel, this engrossing YA novel keeps readers on their toes. In this volume, the magnetic love between Annabelle and Geo is especially intriguing. Both raised in a society where the other sex is not to be trusted, they’re initially surprised and somewhat horrified to find how attracted to one another they are. Although, as a whole, the novel reads well with a great sense of pace and excitement, in a few instances the plot points and emotions can be overstated. For example, Annabelle’s concerns—“She hoped [Geo] hadn’t misled her. She didn’t think so; he acted too sweet and smitten” —almost defuse the sparks between them. Rather than diving into both Annabelle’s and Geo’s perspectives, a bit more emotional mystery would have made the novel even stronger.

An action-packed love story with even more twists and turns than its prequel.

Pub Date: June 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0988996830

Page Count: 294

Publisher: Finlee Augare Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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