This believable portrait of teenage obsession is hampered by a dull protagonist.

THEN YOU WERE GONE

A girl becomes obsessed with her former best friend’s disappearance.

Almost every teenage girl experiences the particular brand of heartbreak caused by a special friend’s desertion. But this story comes with a twist: Two years after the magnetic and mercurial Dakota drops Adrienne, the story’s distressed narrator and protagonist, she leaves a message on Adrienne’s cellphone and then disappears. Is it suicide, as a note seems to indicate, a voluntary act or something more sinister? Adrienne, who when readers first meet her seems fairly normal, is initially shaken by the alpha girl’s disappearance, a feeling that is complicated by the guilt of having not immediately responded to her ex-friend’s call. Together with the similarly fixated-on-Dakota Julian, Dakota’s band mate and sometime boyfriend, Adrienne begins to look into the mystery, an exercise that affects her relationship with devoted boyfriend Lee and worries new best friend Kate. The action, which becomes repetitious, moves in spurts and starts, and while the protagonist’s emotional journey from stasis to obsession to freedom rings true, readers may find it hard to connect with the one-note heroine. A plot twist near the three-quarter mark gooses the story, which then picks up speed and glides smoothly to a satisfying finish, though a blackmail scene may leave readers feeling ambivalent.

This believable portrait of teenage obsession is hampered by a dull protagonist. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2715-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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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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BAMBOO PEOPLE

Well-educated American boys from privileged families have abundant options for college and career. For Chiko, their Burmese counterpart, there are no good choices. There is never enough to eat, and his family lives in constant fear of the military regime that has imprisoned Chiko’s physician father. Soon Chiko is commandeered by the army, trained to hunt down members of the Karenni ethnic minority. Tai, another “recruit,” uses his streetwise survival skills to help them both survive. Meanwhile, Tu Reh, a Karenni youth whose village was torched by the Burmese Army, has been chosen for his first military mission in his people’s resistance movement. How the boys meet and what comes of it is the crux of this multi-voiced novel. While Perkins doesn’t sugarcoat her subject—coming of age in a brutal, fascistic society—this is a gentle story with a lot of heart, suitable for younger readers than the subject matter might suggest. It answers the question, “What is it like to be a child soldier?” clearly, but with hope. (author’s note, historical note) (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58089-328-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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