There are monsters aplenty in this novel about an all-round leader type at Loyola High School in San Francisco and his relationship with Chris, an outwardly bold and nasty, inwardly insecure girl who went through parochial school with him and then to public high school. Near the start Charlie is shaken by a poison chain letter, initiated by Chris, who accuses him of smugness and insensitive meddling. When he goes over to protest, she invites him to the movie Repulsion. . . which fascinates Chris but repulses Charlie. How could anyone be so sick? Well, Chris' mother—who has tried suicide, verbally batters her daughter, and (in Chris' view) brought on her husband's fatal heart attack—comes close. You will share Charlie's horror at her trancelike but manipulative performance at a restaurant, sliding a nail file back and forth, back and forth, across the veins at her wrist. Then there is Duane, the twisted little boy hung up on Godzilla, whom Chris, becoming a "meddler" herself, tries to help—but accidentally disillusions by revealing that the monster is played by a human actor. Faced with all this, Charlie is shaken enough to recognize the "monster in the hearts of people everywhere." Kind hearts are harder to come by, but Charlie's own cold and abstract caring has been humanized as a result of his feelings for Chris; and, in return, though she seems unreachable at times, he will help her change her step from a "Godzilla stomp" to something kinder. Though this monster motif is pointed up so emphatically as to seem a calculated scheme, the scheme has its fascination and so do the floodlit characters. One never doubts their urgency, or the blood-freezing tension of their interaction.

Pub Date: March 17, 1982

ISBN: 0060267321

Page Count: 177

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1982

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.


In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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