An emotional and dramatic tale of an otherworldly relationship.

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THE NOVEMBER GIRL

A teenage runaway and a mysterious girl, the sole winter inhabitants of a lake island, share their painful histories and forge a connection in this YA paranormal romance.

It’s early October, and Hector, 17, decides to flee from his problems: trouble at school; episodes of vomiting and blackouts; self-cutting; and something he doesn’t talk about involving his uncle and guardian. Besides all that, Hector feels out of place in the world: “I’ve been half of something my whole life. Too Korean or too American. Too Black, or not Black enough.” His plan is to miss the last ferry from Lake Superior’s Isle Royale, deserted half the year, and stay. He’s not worried about searchers, because “helicopters and ships don’t look for runaway Black boys. Never in this lifetime.” By mid-May, when the island reopens, Hector will be 18 and free. But he discovers that Isle Royale has a year-round inhabitant: beautiful, white-blond Anda Selkirk, usually invisible. November is the month when Anda renews herself through death, crucially through mariners’ tragic fates in the lake’s storms. Strangely, Hector can see Anda, and he needs her help since he vastly underestimated the difficulties of surviving. They soon become close and romantic—but Anda struggles with a stronger and stronger pull to fulfill her grim purpose. Events build to a stormy confrontation with destiny and the future. Kang (Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything, 2017, etc.) writes in the melodramatic, first-person, present-tense mode common to YA paranormal romance. The melodrama can be physical (“My stomach dives into the center of the earth”; “My heart punches my chest a million times a minute”) but can also turn more poetic, as when Anda says: “I am made of storms and corpses, of granite and paper-white birch.” The author is skillful enough to pull this off for readers who enjoy well-crafted sentences describing lovely, damaged, lonely teenagers: “Pain is so easy. It’s what we do best,” says Hector to Anda, who agrees. Ultimately, Kang offers some fresh ideas in this well-structured book. In addition, she brings a three-dimensional vividness to her characters.

An emotional and dramatic tale of an otherworldly relationship.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63375-826-1

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 8, 2017

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A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

ADORKABLE

In O’Gorman’s YA debut, two best friends try to fool people into thinking that they’re in love—and then discover a new facet of their relationship.

Sally Spitz is a frizzy-haired 17-year-old girl with a charming zeal for three things: Harry Potter (she’s a Gryffindor), Star Wars, and getting into Duke University. During her senior year of high school, she goes on a slew of miserable dates, set up by her mother and her own second-best–friend–turned-matchmaker, Lillian Hooker. Sally refuses to admit to anyone that she’s actually head over Converses in love with her longtime best friend, a boy named Baldwin Eugene Charles Kent, aka “Becks.” After a particularly awkward date, Sally devises a plan to end Lillian’s matchmaking attempts; specifically, she plans to hire someone to act as her fake boyfriend, or “F.B.F.” But before Sally can put her plan into action, a rumor circulates that Sally and Becks are already dating. Becks agrees to act as Sally’s F.B.F. in exchange for a box of Goobers and Sally’s doing his calculus homework for a month. Later, as they hold hands in the hall and “practice” make-out sessions in Becks’ bedroom, their friendship heads into unfamiliar territory. Over the course of this novel, O’Gorman presents an inviting and enjoyable account of lifelong friendship transforming into young love. Though the author’s reliance on familiar tropes may be comforting to a casual reader, it may frustrate those who may be looking for a more substantial and less predictable plot. A number of ancillary characters lack very much complexity, and the story, overall, would have benefited from an added twist or two. Even so, however, this remains a largely engaging and often endearing debut. 

A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-759-7

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

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Well-drawn characters and playful twists keep this thriller fully charged.

MALICE

This YA SF novel features a teen who must halt a virus that will kill two-thirds of humanity.

In Silver Oak, Maryland, Alice Sherman is a high school junior enjoying lunch near her campus basketball court. With her is Archie, her brother, a senior and science prodigy who likes equations more than his fellow students. Alice has been Archie’s one true friend since their mother left six years ago. Alice is about to catch up with Lalana Bunyasarn, her best friend, when a sudden “streak of electricity zaps through” her head. The agony intensifies until a Voice enters Alice’s mind, asking her, “Do you want this pain to stop?” The Voice then instructs her to go up to Bandit Sakda, a classmate playing basketball, and say that she loves him. Bandit is a beautiful Thai boy who’s talented and arrogant. Strangely, the Voice calls her Malice and says not to fall for him because “it’ll only make what you have to do later harder.” Eventually, Alice learns that the Voice belongs to someone from 10 years in the future who needs help saving humanity. A virus will be created by a person Alice knows that will wipe out two-thirds of the world population. Following the Voice’s directions can save everyone—except the person Alice is ordered to kill. Dunn’s (Star-Crossed, 2018, etc.) latest YA adventure offers increasingly tantalizing twists that gleam in succession like nested matryoshka dolls. Alice will charm readers with her quirks, especially her devotion to Chris Hemsworth of Marvel’s Avengers films. Tension builds as characters in the large cast, including crushworthy Zeke Cain and the brilliant Cristela Ruiz, become potential targets for Alice’s mission. Details about Thai culture add a splendid dimension to the narrative; for example, Bandit is pronounced “bun-dit” and means “one who is wise.” While the notion of a high school killer may not sit well with some, the author doesn’t use the device lightly. Her book takes a strong anti-bullying stance, doing so through an entertaining narrative that doesn’t resort to preaching. The author’s heart and craftiness make a sequel welcome.

Well-drawn characters and playful twists keep this thriller fully charged.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64063-412-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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