In this conclusion, coarseness is used as a substitute for realism, despair as a substitute for character growth: skip


From the Blood of the Lamb series , Vol. 3

The Blood of the Lamb trilogy concludes.

After her near-fatal illness in Into the Wilderness (2014), Maryam prepares to leave the refugee camp and return to Onewēre. Though Onewēre and its white religious zealots are dangerous, she must return, armed as she is with a cure for the plague Te Matee Iai. Her dearest friend, Ruth—now pregnant following a rape—is determined to stay and teach her fellow refugees, leaving Maryam to tough out the return journey alone. Maryam’s shocked when her former enemy, Lazarus, follows her home, as she’s oblivious to his developing affections. The escape from the camp, sea journey and island survival adventure are well-enough-paced, but once Maryam and Lazarus arrive back home, momentum grinds to a halt. For more than half the novel, Maryam and Lazarus are caught in an endless, bleak cycle: distrustful arguments with each other, gushing bodily fluids of all sorts, shared capture, sexual violence, degradation by their enemies, brief hope. Lather, rinse, repeat. Without any further development, the trilogy’s every weakness is accentuated, not least the inexplicable primitive naïveté of Maryam’s people, as vulnerable to pseudo-Christian trickery as if their pre-apocalypse society had never been part of the industrial world.

In this conclusion, coarseness is used as a substitute for realism, despair as a substitute for character growth: skip . (Post-apocalyptic romance. 15-17)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61614-909-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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Best leave it at maybe so.


Two 17-year-olds from the northern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, work together on a campaign for a progressive state senate candidate in an unlikely love story.

Co-authors Albertalli (Leah on the Offbeat, 2018, etc.) and Saeed (Bilal Cooks Daal, 2019, etc.) present Jamie Goldberg, a white Ashkenazi Jewish boy who suffers from being “painfully bad at anything girl-related,” and Maya Rehman, a Pakistani American Muslim girl struggling with her parents’ sudden separation. Former childhood best friends, they find themselves volunteered as a team by their mothers during a Ramadan “campaign iftar.” One canvassing adventure at a time, they grow closer despite Maya’s no-dating policy. Chapters alternate between Maya’s and Jamie’s first-person voices. The endearing, if somewhat clichéd, teens sweetly connect over similarities like divorced parents, and their activism will resonate with many. Jamie is sensitive, clumsy, and insecure; Maya is determined, sassy, a dash spoiled, and she swears freely. The novel covers timeless themes of teen activism and love-conquers-all along with election highs and lows, messy divorces, teen angst, bat mitzvah stress, social media gaffes, right-wing haters, friendship drama, and cultural misunderstandings, but the explicit advocacy at times interferes with an immersive reading experience and the text often feels repetitious. Maya’s mother is hijabi, and while Maya advocates against a hijab ban, she chooses not to wear hijab and actively wrestles with what it means to be an observant Muslim.

Best leave it at maybe so. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293704-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Featuring short, punchy chapters, engagingly flawed characters, and a plot that churns ever forward, this frothy confection...


The stakes of a game of dares grow uncomfortably high for four teens.

The Waterside Café is as good a workplace as it is a fine dining experience. The clientele is classy, and the post-work game of Tips run by sleazy (but initially tolerable) manager Rico provides the young staff with biweekly opportunities to make extra cash on the side by fulfilling outrageous dares. The four protagonists of Kennedy’s debut—Isa, Xavi, Peter, and Finn—each have something to hide, and all four try to use Tips’ promises of financial independence and social capital to achieve their goals. Isa wants to leave her beauty-queen past behind, Xavi wants to attend fashion-design school in New York, Peter wants to become a chef (and win his stepsister Xavi’s heart), and Finn just wants to have fun. As the intensity of the summer’s dares increases, the four teens face ever steeper consequences for their choices, including a pregnancy scare, potential arrest for teen prostitution, and being framed as a burglar. An impressively efficient series of coincidences and schemes must be assembled in order to keep the stakes for these likable kids from becoming depressingly real.

Featuring short, punchy chapters, engagingly flawed characters, and a plot that churns ever forward, this frothy confection may not nourish, but it will certainly delight. (Fiction. 15-17)

Pub Date: June 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3016-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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