Smart, funny-but-ruthless teens and self-absorbed, grieving adults prove to be enormously appealing.

READ REVIEW

THE KIDNEY HYPOTHETICAL

OR HOW TO RUIN YOUR LIFE IN SEVEN DAYS

A perfect, glowing ending to a stellar high school career veers off course when debate-team captain Higgs Boson flunks girlfriend Roo’s easy question: If she needed a kidney, would he give her one?

Yee turns her clever, insightful humor on one wounded family: There’s the dentist dad, retired NASA scientist mom, Higgs, named after “the God particle, the missing link, the answer to all the questions of the universe”—and who could forget little sister Charlie? Well, pretty much everyone; tragically dead older brother Jeffrey is still eerily center stage despite Charlie’s straight-A grades and Higgs Boson’s acceptance to Harvard, the path Jeffrey was supposed to tread. (Next step? Dental school.) But while Higgs Boson may be the answer, he doesn’t have the important-to-teens answer: “Roo’s kidneys are fine and I’m not into hypotheticals” leads to an epic breakup, the loss of his best friend, troubles at school and home, and a chance encounter with an intriguing homeless girl wise enough to joke about his name. She forces the self-reflection and introspection Higgs has avoided; now, instead of the iconic happy, hazy final days of high school, he’s “buying cigarettes for a tattooed stranger” and taking life-threatening risks. Yee captures the intensity of popularity measured in yearbook pages and the strength of genuine teen melodrama; Mom’s “Robe of Depression” and Higgs’ therapeutic garden add touching depth; ironic twists save the finale from predictability.

Smart, funny-but-ruthless teens and self-absorbed, grieving adults prove to be enormously appealing. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 31, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-23094-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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