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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If hoping to grab a heartfelt connection, readers may feel sidelined, but plot turns will certainly keep them entranced.

THE ALWAYS WAR

For the past 75 years, Tessa’s nation has been at war—a war that has no end in sight.

Tessa lives in a community of weary people, visibly crushed by endless years of combat. They are numb; war is commonplace. But when a local boy receives an award for bravery—the nation’s highest—it lifts the city. Everyone, especially Tessa, desperately needs a hero. But Gideon shocks the town by refusing the honor. He declares himself a coward and runs away. He has killed more than 1,000 people; there is no honor in that. But that’s what war is, isn’t it? Killing the enemy is necessary. Gideon infuriates Tessa, but she is inexplicably curious as well. She follows him and ends up on a plane, with Gideon steering it straight toward the enemy line. He hopes to apologize, to atone for his mistakes, but what he and Tessa (along with a stowaway orphan named Dek) find when they open the plane’s door changes the plan dramatically. This dystopian drama examines the human aspect of war, and also how technology may redefine war in the future. In line with that tension, it is difficult to pinpoint which character grows the most in the narrative—Tessa or the computer.

If hoping to grab a heartfelt connection, readers may feel sidelined, but plot turns will certainly keep them entranced. (Dystopia. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9526-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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