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

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

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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

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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.

GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN

A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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