Timely subject matter and an adequate romance, but nothing super.

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BLAZE (OR LOVE IN THE TIME OF SUPERVILLAINS)

Geeky girl with absent father and quirky hobby meets unsuitable boy, then realizes Mr. Right has been under her nose all along.

Blaze's self-centered father, a caricature, left the family to become an actor, leaving her with only her name (from Ghost Rider's Johnny Blaze) and a love for classic Marvel Comics. Now, Blaze spends her time ferrying her 13-year-old brother Josh and his farting, breast-ogling, gay-joke–making friends to and from soccer practice. She has a crush on Mark, Josh's soccer coach, but their relationship fails to progress until Blaze's friend snaps a picture of Blaze trying on lingerie and sends it to Mark's phone. After a confusing and pressure-filled sexual encounter and Mark's subsequent brushoff, Mark posts the half-naked photo on clunkily named Facebook stand-in FriendsPlace, and it goes viral. The resultant bullying is harsh but believable, and it's satisfying to see Blaze channeling her hurt and anger into making comics and redecorating her Superturd of a minivan. Less impressive, however, are some of Blaze's asides to the reader (“Stuart is one of only three black students in our school....I feel somewhat hip and urban having him here at my house”) and the frequent subtle digs at girls being high-maintenance, stalkers, actual sluts and brainwashing feminists.

Timely subject matter and an adequate romance, but nothing super. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7348-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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A change of pace from the teeming swarms of fantasy and paranormal romance but too underpowered to achieve escape velocity.

FUTUREDAZE

AN ANTHOLOGY OF YA SCIENCE FICTION

A low-wattage collection of original stories and poems, as unmemorable as it is unappealingly titled.

The collection was inspired by a perceived paucity of short science fiction for teen readers, and its production costs were covered by a Kickstarter campaign. The editors gather a dozen poems and 21 stories from a stable of contributors who, after headliners Jack McDevitt and Nancy Holder, will be largely unknown even to widely read fans of the genre. The tales place their characters aboard spacecraft or space stations, on other worlds or in future dystopias, but only rarely do the writers capture a credibly adolescent voice or sensibility. Standouts in this department are the Heinlein-esque “The Stars Beneath Our Feet,” by Stephen D. Covey & Sandra McDonald, about a first date/joyride in space gone wrong, and Camille Alexa’s portrait of a teen traumatized by a cyberspace assault (“Over It”). Along with a few attempts to craft futuristic slang, only Lavie Tidhar’s fragmentary tale of Tel Aviv invaded by successive waves of aliens, doppelgangers, zombies and carnivorous plants (“The Myriad Dangers”) effectively lightens the overall earnest tone. Aside from fictional aliens and modified humans, occasional references to dark skin (“Out of the Silent Sea,” Dale Lucas) are the only signs of ethnic diversity. Most of the free-verse poetry makes only oblique, at best, references to science-fictional themes.

A change of pace from the teeming swarms of fantasy and paranormal romance but too underpowered to achieve escape velocity. (author bios) (Science fiction/short stories. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9847824-0-8

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Underwords

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

AFTER ALL I'VE DONE

A middle-aged woman sidelined by a horrific accident finds even sharper pains waiting on the other side of her recuperation in this expert nightmare by Hardy, familiar to many readers as Megan Hart, author of All the Secrets We Keep (2017), etc.

Five months ago, while she was on her way to the hospital with an ailing gallbladder, Diana Sparrow’s car hit a deer on a rural Pennsylvania road. When she awoke, she was minus her gallbladder, two working collarbones (and therefore two functioning arms), and her memory. During a recovery that would’ve been impossible without the constant ministrations of Harriett Richmond, the mother-in-law who’s the real reason Diana married her husband, Jonathan, Diana’s discovered that Jonathan has been cheating on her with her childhood friend Valerie Delagatti. Divorce is out of the question: Diana’s grown used to the pampered lifestyle the prenup she’d signed would snatch away from her. Every day is filled with torments. She slips and falls in a pool of wine on her kitchen floor she’s sure she didn’t spill herself. At the emergency room, her credit card and debit card are declined. She feels that she hates oppressively solicitous Harriett but has no idea why. Her sessions with her psychiatrist fail to heal her rage at her adoptive mother, an addict who abandoned her then returned only to disappear again and die an ugly death. Even worse, her attempts to recover her lost memory lead to an excruciatingly paced series of revelations. Val says Diana asked her to seduce Jonathan. Diana realizes that Cole, a fellow student in her watercolor class, isn’t the stranger she’d thought he was. Where can this maze of deceptions possibly end?

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-470-0

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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These are experiences that need to be remembered, though Arakawa’s are not as compellingly related as other novels or...

THE LITTLE EXILE

A child of Japanese immigrants looks back on her World War II–era experiences in internment camps and afterward.

Changing names and inventing details to fill in the gaps between memories, Arakawa, in character as Shizuye, begins with her 1932 birth on a Murphy bed in San Francisco, takes her narrative through multiple moves that become forced ones in the wake of Pearl Harbor, then concludes with a temporary postwar settlement in Denver and final journey back to the West Coast. Despite the fictive fill, her account is spotty and episodic, more hindered than helped in its course by such details as painstaking descriptions of the route between one home and the local playground or tedious tallies of the comings and goings of briefly known schoolmates. As much a personal story as testament to a historical outrage, her recollections mingle references to domestic strife, pre-adolescent bed-wetting, and suicidal impulses following the internment with incidents of being jeered as a “Jap” on the way home from school, encounters with neighborhood “racial covenants,” and other manifestations of prejudice—not to mention repeated forcible removals to hastily constructed camps in California and, later, Arkansas. Occasional mentions of “Caucasian” visitors or a friend’s “dark skin” serve as reminders that most of the figures here are Asian or Asian-American.

These are experiences that need to be remembered, though Arakawa’s are not as compellingly related as other novels or personal accounts of the travesty. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61172-036-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Stone Bridge Press

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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