Ultimately, just as frustrating, underdeveloped, and problematic as the trope this novel tries to interrogate.


A Manic Pixie Dream Boy learns he’s more than just a label.

Riley is TropeTown’s second-ever Manic Pixie Dream Boy—a subset of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. After twice deviating from his script on a job, the Council assigns Riley to mandatory group therapy with a motley crew of Manic Pixie Dream Girls. There, he falls for Zelda, of the Geek Chic subtype, and finds an unanticipated group of friends. However, something’s not quite right in TropeTown, and Riley has to decide if he is willing to risk termination to learn the truth about TropeTown and protect the Manic Pixies. Underdeveloped worldbuilding and a general lack of subtlety leaves elements of characterization and plot unsatisfying. There is plenty of discussion about the concept of Manic Pixies, but any attempted critique is undermined by the continued centering of Riley, a male character who finds himself through the help of secondary women characters. Barely-veiled digs at John Green’s many Manic Pixies abound; a painfully self-conscious discussion arises between white characters exploring the similarities and differences between Manic Pixies and racist tropes like the Magical Negro as well as the benefits and detriments of tropes as representation. A few of the women characters have been in same-sex relationships, and characters default to white.

Ultimately, just as frustrating, underdeveloped, and problematic as the trope this novel tries to interrogate. (Speculative fiction/satire. 13-17)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-1259-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.


Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Part exciting adventure, part thoughtful coming-of-age novel, this story retells and overturns familiar tropes.


From the Six Crimson Cranes series , Vol. 1

Girl meets magic. Hijinks ensue.

Shiori’anma, Princess of Kiata and eldest daughter of Emperor Hanariho, is the intrepid protagonist in this folktale retelling. About to turn 17 and be married off to a third-rank barbarian lord, Shiori desperately looks for ways out of the engagement. Her emerging talents in forbidden magic and a run-in with a young shape-shifting dragon help to pass the time before she is doomed to relocate to the cold North. Things take an even worse turn, however, when she uncovers her stepmother’s secrets. As a consequence, her six brothers are cursed into assuming the form of cranes by day. Shiori is whisked away and coerced into silence, for every word that escapes her lips will mean the death of one of her brothers. She must learn to survive on her own and use her wits and hard-won experience to save both her family and country. Readers here revisit the East Asian–inspired world established in Lim’s The Blood of Stars duology. Despite a few hiccups in the logic of the magic, the author cleverly maintains the basic structure of this well-known European folktale type while weaving in rich elements of Asian mythology, including dragon pearls and the goddess of the moon. The exploration of complicated family dynamics is a particular strength, especially the challenging of the evil stepmother cliché.

Part exciting adventure, part thoughtful coming-of-age novel, this story retells and overturns familiar tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 13-17)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30091-6

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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