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From the Insomniacs After School series , Vol. 1

A sweet, guaranteed feel-good read.

Two insomniacs in Japan develop an unusual friendship.

Nakami’s high school’s now-defunct astronomy club is the subject of rumors involving unrequited love, tragic deaths, and subsequent hauntings, but Nakami doesn’t believe in ghosts. He just wants to find somewhere quiet to nap—he’s stuck in a cycle of insomnia that’s leaving him exhausted and bad-tempered. But since he isn’t scared of the supposedly haunted observatory, he’s pushed by his classmates to fetch some supplies from a storage cupboard located there. In the process, he discovers that it could actually be a very nice secret hideout if not for the fact that there’s somebody else there already. Magari is like him: an insomniac hellbent on not letting other people know that she can’t sleep. After she admits that she was the one who made up the ghost story to keep others out of her private napping place, they decide to split the space so they can both use it. Their unlikely friendship starts to develop when they meet outside of school to spend sleepless nights venturing around town. They become close as they share personal stories, bring in furniture to make the room more comfortable, and are even joined by a cat. With adorable illustrations, this slice-of-life story with a dash of romance following two teens brought together by secrets is a short and accessible treat.

A sweet, guaranteed feel-good read. (Manga. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9781974736577

Page Count: 192

Publisher: VIZ Media

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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A high-concept premise that falls short in its execution.

A teenage girl finds herself alone after everyone else in her town mysteriously disappears, leaving her scrambling to figure out how to find them all.

One late summer day, everybody in July Fielding’s town disappears. She is left to piece together what happened, following a series of cryptic signs she finds around town urging her to “GET THEM BACK.” The narrative moves back and forth between July’s present and the events of the summer before, when her relationship with her best friend, cross-country team co-captain Sydney, starts to fracture due to a combination of jealousy over July’s new relationship with a cute boy called Sam and sweet up-and-coming freshman Ella’s threatening to overtake Syd’s status as star of the track team. The team members participate in a ritual in which they jump off a cliff into the rocky waters below at the end of their Friday practice runs. Though Ella is reluctant, Syd pressures her to jump. Short, frenetically paced sections move the story along quickly, and there is much foreshadowing pointing to something terrible that occurred at the end of that summer, which may be the key to July’s current predicament, but there is much misdirection too. Ultimately this is a story without enough setup to make the turn the book takes in the end feel fully developed or earned. All characters read white.

A high-concept premise that falls short in its execution. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9780593327173

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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A great read offering entertainment, encouragement, and plenty to reflect upon.

A gay teen contends with time travel—and homophobia through the decades.

All Cuban American Luis wants is to be prom king with his boyfriend, but tiny upstate New York boarding school Antic Springs Academy, with its strict, Christian code of conduct, won’t even let them hold hands in public. After a disastrous prom committee meeting at which his attempt to make the event welcoming of queer couples is rejected by the principal, Luis gets quite literally knocked into the past—specifically, ASA in the year 1985. There he meets Chaz, a Black student who attended the school at the same time as Luis’ parents and who died under mysterious circumstances after being bullied for his sexuality. Luis now faces a choice between changing the past to help Chaz and preserving his own future existence. Fortunately, he has Ms. Silverthorn, a Black English teacher and beloved mentor, who offers him support in both timelines. The narrative explores the impacts of homophobia and being closeted, remaining optimistic without shying away from the more brutal aspects. Luis is a multifaceted character with an engaging voice whose flaws are confronted and examined throughout. The solid pacing and pleasant, fluid prose make this a page-turner. Luis’ boyfriend is cued as Chinese American, and his best friend is nonbinary; there is some diversity in ethnicity and sexuality in background characters, although the school is predominantly White.

A great read offering entertainment, encouragement, and plenty to reflect upon. (author's note) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0710-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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