In a subgenre about queer themes and musicals that’s big enough to offer choice, other options are funnier and more genuine...

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BEYOND CLUELESS

Mistaken identity, misbehavior, and musical theater.

Now that she’s starting Catholic school, how will 14-year-old Marty spend time with BFF Jimmy, who’s staying in public school and has a new boyfriend distracting him? Marty likes Jimmy’s boyfriend’s friends from the Gay-Straight Alliance but misses Jimmy’s undiluted attention. At least Marty’s school is doing Into the Woods—musicals are Marty’s lifeblood. Playing Little Red Riding Hood, she falls for the wily older boy playing the Wolf; Into the Woods fans will gobble up the detailed connections between show and life. As the kids pal around and drink beer, Marty’s oblivious social assumptions exist only to set up a plot tangle of identities, jealousies, and missteps. Weak characterization strains for voice, with Marty’s campy first-person narration (“HELL no. I’m not going to be the only girl-skank in these pictures!”) sounding the same as her gay friends’ (“Sweetheart, you have no idea what a trove of secrets I keep”; “You are soooo changing out of that…arrangement of fabric”). Ongoing snark about unshaven female legs, an it’s-so-weird attitude about a Chinese name before Marty learns its pronunciation, and variations on a slur (“mah bitches,” “bee-yatch,” and the classic “bitch”) aim for humor and flavor but come off, well, bitchy.

In a subgenre about queer themes and musicals that’s big enough to offer choice, other options are funnier and more genuine than this. (Fiction. 13-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1496-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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An approachable, earnest, feel-good romance between a white Jewish girl and a Chinese-Canadian immigrant boy provides the...

THE MOST DANGEROUS THING

An eleventh-grade girl wants to start a relationship but is stymied by depression and anxiety.

Syd knows her depression isn’t really out of control, like some people’s. She can usually manage the crushing fog that weighs her down: tricking herself into getting out of bed by playing the phone game; biking around Vancouver, British Columbia, until she’s exhausted; investing online with her cantankerous grandfather; eating just enough to get by. It works well enough until her lab partner, Paul, starts texting and flirting. Syd would respond in kind if she could, but she’s afraid to make eye contact or have conversations with new people—how could she possibly start a relationship? Fading into the background would be ideal, but her gregarious family has other plans. Her mother, revitalizing the family Passover celebration, ropes Syd into embarrassing Jewish singalongs. Worse, Syd’s vivacious sister wants to perform The Vagina Monologues for the school drama festival, and she’s written her own monologue—one that uses “the c-word”! The oozing darkness that dominates Syd’s thoughts is authentically represented in her present-tense narration and appropriately addressed with professional mental health treatment. Frustratingly, however, Syd’s nervousness about romantic and sexual intimacy is pathologized as a curable symptom of her mental illness.

An approachable, earnest, feel-good romance between a white Jewish girl and a Chinese-Canadian immigrant boy provides the flavor for a tale of recovery and empowerment . (Fiction. 13-15)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1184-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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Even those who loved the first book might find too little logic in this conclusion

THE PACK

A group of shape-shifting runaways from the circus, on the run from genocidal hunters, tries to find a home.

Flo, her boyfriend, Jett, and the other shifters just want to find a strong pack to join. The teenagers (all either white or with no identified race) can all shift into an animal form: bears or tigers, parrots or rats, elephants or horses. The frightened escapees, who’ve lost many of their loved ones to hunters, have been seeking some safe place in the woods. The members of this huge cast (with too many names and animal forms to keep track of) have a wide array of agendas. Should they join the wild pack? The wolf pack? Should they even stay together? After brief dramas, many of these newly introduced characters vanish, never to be heard from again. Finally, Flo and the shifters are captured by hunters, who are in league with the lion who used to run their circus, who’d been betraying them for years and who now seeks to strike a bargain. Further dramatic revelations and betrayals await, of course. There’s no attempt to summarize the events of The Wanderers (2015), and with so many characters, side quests, and double crosses, it’s often difficult to keep track.

Even those who loved the first book might find too little logic in this conclusion . (Fantasy. 13-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-1218-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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