Stiefvater couldn't write a bad book, and this isn't one, but it is a disappointment after years of glorious...

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THE RAVEN KING

From the Raven Cycle series , Vol. 4

A group of Virginia teenagers finally finds a long-buried Welsh king in this conclusion to the four-part Raven Cycle.

A demon has infected the magical forest, Cabeswater, killing Ronan's mother, Aurora, and threatening Ronan's brother, Matthew, as well as Ronan and maybe the whole world—Gansey knows what he has to do. It's all been foretold, and readers have been waiting for it since Blue saw him on the corpse road in quartet opener The Raven Boys (2012). For three out of four novels, Stiefvater combined extraordinary magic and visceral reality in a way that felt entirely true. Here, the magic scatters in all directions, and too little of it makes sense. The characters—Ronan, Gansey, long-dead Noah, Blue Sargent, newcomer Henry, and especially Adam—are as multidimensional and fully realized as ever; Ronan and Adam's budding romance is beautifully told. The writing sings—each sentence, each paragraph marvelously wrought. Yet at the point where the story needs to make the most sense, it makes the least, prophecy and magics piling up on one another in a chaotic, anticlimactic climax. The ending feels trivial, almost mocking the seriousness of the rest of the quartet.

Stiefvater couldn't write a bad book, and this isn't one, but it is a disappointment after years of glorious buildup. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-42498-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues...

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THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

He’s in remission from the osteosarcoma that took one of his legs. She’s fighting the brown fluid in her lungs caused by tumors. Both know that their time is limited.

Sparks fly when Hazel Grace Lancaster spies Augustus “Gus” Waters checking her out across the room in a group-therapy session for teens living with cancer. He’s a gorgeous, confident, intelligent amputee who always loses video games because he tries to save everyone. She’s smart, snarky and 16; she goes to community college and jokingly calls Peter Van Houten, the author of her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, her only friend besides her parents. He asks her over, and they swap novels. He agrees to read the Van Houten and she agrees to read his—based on his favorite bloodbath-filled video game. The two become connected at the hip, and what follows is a smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance. From their trip to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive Van Houten to their hilariously flirty repartee, readers will swoon on nearly every page. Green’s signature style shines: His carefully structured dialogue and razor-sharp characters brim with genuine intellect, humor and desire. He takes on Big Questions that might feel heavy-handed in the words of any other author: What do oblivion and living mean? Then he deftly parries them with humor: “My nostalgia is so extreme that I am capable of missing a swing my butt never actually touched.” Dog-earing of pages will no doubt ensue.

Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues to make it through Hazel and Gus’ poignant journey. (Fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-47881-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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