Instantly memorable, compulsively readable.

HARD WIRED

A staggering revelation tumbles a brainy 15-year-old down a digital rabbit hole.

Early in this first-person narrative, Quinn cracks the code left behind by his deceased father and discovers he’s actually a fully conscious Quantum Intelligence created by an interdisciplinary research team. The past 10 years actually unfolded in 45 minutes. His friends, family, and debilitating medical condition were nothing but invented backstory. Everything he knows is a lie. Once he accesses the internet and begins consuming humanity’s collective knowledge, Quinn flips the script: He now knows everything, and all bets are off. Though the prospect of a quantum superintelligence gallivanting across the web before taking the form of a killer metal robot sounds suspect, Vlahos hard-wires his novel to an intimately human core. In these pages, perennial bildungsroman concerns—privacy, love and friendship, freedom, and identity—meld with a blend of romance, thriller, and SF tropes. Alongside a Salinger-esque criticism of the human world’s myopic cruelty, one finds probing discussions about the nature of consciousness, the spectacle of American media (astute readers will note a snarky reference to Vlahos’ 2017 title, Life in a Fishbowl), and the very construct of human rights. Though characters hail from varied backgrounds, readers must decide whether they find Quinn’s repeated comparisons of himself to other oppressed groups provocative or tenuous.

Instantly memorable, compulsively readable. (Speculative fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68119-037-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • New York Times Bestseller

THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

A resounding success.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

CONCRETE ROSE

This literary DeLorean transports readers into the past, where they hope, dream, and struggle alongside beloved characters from Thomas’ The Hate U Give (2017).

The tale begins in 1998 Garden Heights, when Starr’s parents, Maverick and Lisa, are high school seniors in love and planning for the future. Thomas proves Game of Thrones–esque in her worldbuilding ability, deepening her landscape without sacrificing intimacy or heart. Garden Heights doesn’t contain dragons or sorcerers, but it’s nevertheless a kingdom under siege, and the contemporary pressures its royalty faces are graver for the realness that no magic spell can alleviate. Mav’s a prince whose family prospects are diminished due to his father’s federally mandated absence. He and his best friend, King, are “li’l homies,” lower in status and with everything to prove, especially after Mav becomes a father. In a world where masculinity and violence are inextricably linked to power, the boys’ very identities are tied to the fathers whose names they bear and with whose legacies they must contend. Mav laments, “I ain’t as hard as my pops, ain’t as street as my pops,” but measuring up to that legacy ends in jail or the grave. Worthy prequels make readers invest as though meeting characters for the first time; here they learn more about the intricate hierarchies and alliances within the King Lord gang and gain deeper insight into former ancillary characters, particularly Mav’s parents, King, and Iesha. Characters are Black.

A resounding success. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-284671-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more