A lukewarm retread of the snarky teen chick-lit of yore.

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PRETENDERS

A new series with a Gossip Girl–esque conceit from the best-selling author of The Clique.

X-Phonie, one of Noble High’s Phoenix Five freshmen operating under a code name, breaks into their teacher’s safe to reveal the sordid (or not-so-sordid in this case) journals of the school’s most infamous students. First up is Vanessa, the brown-skinned, green-eyed girl who’s always in it to win it. Her hefty footnotes often outweigh her journal entries. Hipster Jagger’s parents were arrested, and now he lives alone in the back of a pet store. Basketballer Duffy is so much the object of Lily’s obsessions…er...affections that she steals his Nikes and keeps a running tab of the souvenirs she’s collected. Finally there’s drama queen Sheridan, who lives in a fantasy world imagining she’s Massie Block from The Clique. The first installment winds by turns in and out of the very clean world of the five teens’ journals. Harrison nails the voices of her female protagonists but struggles with those of her male ones, particularly Duffy, who still plays the Wii when most boys his age would have graduated to a more age-appropriate gaming system. Little happens beyond introducing the characters and their interests/crushes/interactions with one another, with the result that this feels like a tepid attempt to recreate the bawdy ridiculousness of Gossip Girl.

A lukewarm retread of the snarky teen chick-lit of yore. (Romance. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-22244-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Poppy/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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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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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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