A strong, well-written female protagonist sets this coming-of-age novel apart.

EVERY EXQUISITE THING

After a teacher gifts her a copy of a cult classic novel, student-athlete Nanette O’Hare rebels against her manufactured white, middle-class lifestyle.

The fictional cult novel she receives echoes The Catcher in the Rye in reputation. Soon enough Nanette consumes the book, obsessed with its open-ended conclusion. When she befriends the author, a recluse named Nigel Booker, Nanette questions her tendency to conform to the demands of her parents and school life. “I knew I was privileged, but what good was that if I still didn’t get to make my own choices?” Acting the matchmaker, Booker introduces Nanette to Alex, a like-minded young poet with a destructive streak to whom she finds herself drawn. “Suddenly, I wanted to be attractive, adored, desired.” With a bracing, confrontational style, Quick exposes new angles to this angst-ridden teenage prototype, but the first half of the novel is spent developing a familiar narrative. Nanette’s story truly begins to excel in the latter half. As Nanette’s new relationships demand more from her, the author plumbs the depths of her isolation. Catharsis here equals a journey of self-sabotage and self-discovery: “You’re at a time in your life when you need to feel and believe wildly—that’s just the way it is,” Booker tells her. Rare moments like these make Nanette’s story soar.

A strong, well-written female protagonist sets this coming-of-age novel apart. (Fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-37959-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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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...

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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A creative and compelling read.

A NEON DARKNESS

From the Bright Sessions series , Vol. 2

Robert can manipulate others—but he doesn’t know if that’s a blessing or a curse.

Following The Infinite Noise (2019), this Bright Sessions book tells the origin story of Damien, ne Robert, one of the podcast’s antagonists. When the book opens, Robert is an 18-year-old high school dropout and White boy with no family but all the material resources he could ever need. He has the power to make people do what he wants, or more accurately, to want the same things he wants. After arriving in Los Angeles, he falls in with a slightly older group of Unusuals with various powers who take him under their wing. Shippen combines an exciting plot with diverse characters—such as Neon, who is Black and queer, and Indah, who is Indonesian, Muslim, and lesbian—who defy stereotypes. As the group tangles with a shady organization that has kidnapped their friend, they also realize that the affection they feel for Robert might not be real. Robert’s emotional arc is interesting and unusual—he wants to be a good person, but he is selfish, manipulative, and unwilling to change. He is sympathetic while also being pitiful and contemptible and far too uncool to be an antihero. This may be the best Bright Sessions content yet as well as an excellent starting point for those unfamiliar with this world.

A creative and compelling read. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-29754-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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