A surprisingly heartfelt coming-of-age story wrapped in a zany package.

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THE TRUTH LIES HERE

While trying to find her missing father, Penny uncovers a conspiracy in the Upper Peninsula.

Penny’s father lost her trust when she discovered that he fabricated the cryptozoology stories for his tabloid magazine column. Years later, she returns to small-town Michigan from Chicago, where she has lived with her mother since her parents’ divorce, for a summer visit with him, planning on mining the town for an article about its decline due to the recession, which shuttered the local plant that was the area’s employer. When her father doesn’t show up to meet her at the airport, she thinks he’s chasing a story—but the geeky boy next door, her one-time best friend, half-Chippewa Dex, who is now her father’s protégé, thinks it’s something sinister. After Penny’s investigations into local economic woes turn up an oddity (the word-for-word identical response that it’s “best not to think too much about it” from anyone asked about an accident at the plant), mysterious federal agent types show up around town, and bodies similar to the mysterious one that prompted Penny’s father’s latest story start to pile up. Penny becomes determined to get to the bottom of everything, and her well-plotted, conspiracy-laden journey leads her to revelations about perspective and her relationships with various loved ones. Aside from Dex and his mother, all characters are white.

A surprisingly heartfelt coming-of-age story wrapped in a zany package. (Science-fiction thriller. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-238039-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Fear the reaper(s)…but relish this intelligent and entertaining blend of dark humor and high death tolls.

THUNDERHEAD

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 2

Death proves impermanent in this sequel to Scythe (2016).

In a world run by the (almost) all-powerful and (almost) omniscient artificial intelligence Thunderhead, only the Honorable Scythes deal permanent death to near-immortal humans. Yet a growing contingent of scythes, feared and flattered by society and operating outside the Thunderhead’s control, are proving rather dishonorable. No longer apprentices, 18-year-olds Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch realize “the scythedom is…high school with murder” as they watch their fellow scythes jockey for power and prestige. Citra now gleans as Scythe Anastasia, questioning the status quo but also opposing the homicidally enthusiastic “new-order” scythes and their dangerous demagogue. Self-appointed as Scythe Lucifer, Rowan hunts other scythes whom he deems corrupt. Meanwhile, the existentially troubled Thunderhead questions its role as both creation and caretaker of humanity, sworn not to take life but fearing that its utopia will otherwise collapse into dystopia. Nationality and race are minimally mentioned—ethnic biases and genocide are considered very gauche—yet a population that defies death, aging, sickness, poverty, and war risks becoming bleakly homogenous, alleviated only by “unsavories” and scythes. This sequel digs deeper into Shusterman’s complex world and complicated characters, offering political maneuvering, fatal conspiracies, and impending catastrophe via a slowly unfurling plot and startling bursts of action.

Fear the reaper(s)…but relish this intelligent and entertaining blend of dark humor and high death tolls. (Science fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7245-7

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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Chilling, poignant, haunting, and, unfortunately, all too timely.

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THE GRACE YEAR

A rebellious 16-year-old is sent to an isolated island for her grace year, when she must release her seductive, poisonous magic into the wild before taking her proper place as a wife and child bearer.

In gaslit Garner County, women and girls are said to harbor diabolical magic capable of manipulating men. Dreaming, among other things, is forbidden, and before girls embark on their grace year, they hope to receive a veil, which promises marriage. Otherwise, it’s life in a labor house—or worse. Strong, outdoorsy, skeptical Tierney James doesn’t want to be married, but a shocking twist leaves her with a veil—and a dangerous enemy in the vindictive Kiersten. Thirty-three girls with red ribbons symbolizing sin woven into their braids set out to survive the island, but it won’t be easy. Poachers, who trade in the body parts of grace-year girls, surround the camp, and paranoia, superstition, and mistrust rule. Not everyone will make it home alive. The bones of Liggett’s (The Unfortunates, 2018, etc.) tale of female repression are familiar ones, but her immersive storytelling effortlessly weaves horror elements with a harrowing and surprising survival story. Profound moments lie in small details, and readers’ hearts will race and break right along with the brave, capable Tierney’s. The biggest changes often begin with the smallest rebellions, and the emotional conclusion will resonate. All characters are assumed white.

Chilling, poignant, haunting, and, unfortunately, all too timely. (Dystopian. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-14544-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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