MEANT TO BE

A paint-by-numbers romantic comedy of errors.

Ultraorganized, rule-following scholar/swimmer Julia’s dreams of a perfect English-lit class trip to London are dashed when she is assigned to uber-immature slacker Jason as buddy for the entire time. Jason couldn’t possibly be any further from Mark, Julia’s Meant To Be back home, in looks, brains or character. Surprise, surprise: Numerous pratfalls, fights, mix-ups and unexpectedly revelatory conversations, and one awesome kiss later, it turns out that if not her, then at least the plot’s, MTB is, gasp, Jason. Julie’s heart follows a well-trodden path that only readers who have never encountered the genre before will find at all astonishing. What those who do know the formula will find striking is the doggedness with which sweet-at-heart Jason pursues bitchy Julia. Morrill drops plenty of clues for discerning readers that indicate Jason’s basic decency and attraction to Julia. Julia, meanwhile, ignores all of them and maintains such an unbending attitude of intellectual superiority that she becomes profoundly unlikable, despite many narrative attempts to mitigate this with episodes of clumsiness and cluelessness. The author has a good ear for comic dialogue—“I’m just saying there are other fish in the sea, Julia,” her best friend counsels via Skype. “Big fish. Tasty fish. Tuna fish!”—that bodes well for future, less formulaic outings. Physical comedy, particularly as presented in Julia’s present-tense voice, is far less successful.

For neophytes only . (Comic romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-74177-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

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  • Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Winner

P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 2

Lara Jean's romantic entanglements complicate themselves further.

In the wake of the events detailed in To All the Boys I Loved Before (2014), Lara Jean confesses her love for handsome golden boy Peter. This frees the pair to start a romantic relationship with a clean slate, but over the course of the novel it becomes clear that embarking on a relationship that turns an aggressive blind eye to baggage is never a good idea. When a viral video of a steamy love session between Peter and Lara Jean rears its ugly head and a boy from the past enters Lara Jean's life once more, Lara Jean's life gets complicated. Every character from Han’s adored previous novel is back, with new dimensions given to nearly every one of them. Subplots abound, among them two involving Lara Jean's father and Peter's ex-gal Genevieve, but benefitting most from this second look is John Ambrose McClaren, a boy briefly referenced in the former book who is thrust into the spotlight here as Peter's rival for Lara Jean's heart. With all these characters bouncing around, Han occasionally struggles to keep a steady hand on the novel's primary thrust: Lara Jean’s emotional development. Han gets the job done in the end, but this overeventful sequel pales to the original where structure is concerned. The author's greatest success remains her character work, and the book does indeed give everyone a solid arc, narrative be damned.

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2673-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2015

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Part exciting adventure, part thoughtful coming-of-age novel, this story retells and overturns familiar tropes.

SIX CRIMSON CRANES

From the Six Crimson Cranes series , Vol. 1

Girl meets magic. Hijinks ensue.

Shiori’anma, Princess of Kiata and eldest daughter of Emperor Hanariho, is the intrepid protagonist in this folktale retelling. About to turn 17 and be married off to a third-rank barbarian lord, Shiori desperately looks for ways out of the engagement. Her emerging talents in forbidden magic and a run-in with a young shape-shifting dragon help to pass the time before she is doomed to relocate to the cold North. Things take an even worse turn, however, when she uncovers her stepmother’s secrets. As a consequence, her six brothers are cursed into assuming the form of cranes by day. Shiori is whisked away and coerced into silence, for every word that escapes her lips will mean the death of one of her brothers. She must learn to survive on her own and use her wits and hard-won experience to save both her family and country. Readers here revisit the East Asian–inspired world established in Lim’s The Blood of Stars duology. Despite a few hiccups in the logic of the magic, the author cleverly maintains the basic structure of this well-known European folktale type while weaving in rich elements of Asian mythology, including dragon pearls and the goddess of the moon. The exploration of complicated family dynamics is a particular strength, especially the challenging of the evil stepmother cliché.

Part exciting adventure, part thoughtful coming-of-age novel, this story retells and overturns familiar tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 13-17)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30091-6

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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