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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High stakes, epic scope, intense action, and sweeping mythologies.

FURYBORN

From the Empirium Trilogy series , Vol. 1

Two girls separated by a thousand years are connected by a prophecy.

In a prologue, readers learn that pale-skinned Queen Rielle has killed her husband, the biracial Audric. She gives birth to their baby while a war between angels and humans rages. To keep the infant safe from the angels’ leader, light-skinned Corien, Rielle desperately charges a child with magical abilities to use his gifts to flee with and protect her—with mixed success. Later chapters alternate between telling Rielle’s story and flashing forward 1,020 years to focus on olive-skinned Eliana. Following a childhood tragedy, Rielle hid her staggering ability to control all seven elements until a threat against her beloved Audric caused her to reveal her gifts, prompting the Magisterial Council to impose seven trials to determine whether she was the Sun Queen or Blood Queen spoken of in prophecy. While readers start off knowing her story’s end, a steamy romance and devious twists along the way pack surprises. Eliana, meanwhile, is a deadly bounty hunter—serving an evil empire in order to protect her own family—who gets mixed up with rebels when her mother is abducted. The rigid, cliffhanger-heavy chapter structure is supported by breakneck pacing and constant action. The ending leaves neither storyline resolved.

High stakes, epic scope, intense action, and sweeping mythologies. (element guide) (Fantasy. 15-adult)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5662-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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ANNA K AWAY

From the Anna K series , Vol. 2

A tale of love and loss that spans the globe.

Instead of having a carefree summer, biracial (Korean/White) Anna is sent away from the familiarity of New York, her friends, the past school year’s scandal—and the memories of her dead boyfriend, Alexia Vronsky. While struggling with grief, her shattered self-image, and an uncertain future, Anna attempts to reclaim her summer in Seoul, where she knows only her father and grandmother. Beatrice, Alexia’s cousin, juggles her clingy girlfriend and falling for a California surfer even as she represses her grief. Meanwhile, Anna’s brother, Steven, plans for an amazing summer party, although Lolly, his girlfriend, is away at theater camp. Steven’s best friend, Dustin, and Kimmie, Lolly’s younger sister, are equally nervous about their first sexual experience together. This sequel to Anna K (2020) contains fewer mentions of luxury brands, and the characters exhibit an increased awareness of the impacts of wealth and socio-economic status. The novel also touches on issues of addiction, sexism, cultural differences, fame, relationships, love, and mental health; in particular, the portrayals of living with grief and redefining the self after a loved one dies shine. Despite some awkward time skips, the humor, pop-culture references, and characters’ distinct voices strengthen the story. Fans of the first novel will enjoy this follow-up, which is also accessible to readers new to Anna and her world. Some major characters are White; Dustin is Black and Jewish, and there is diversity in the supporting cast.

Entertaining. (cast of characters) (Fiction. 15-18)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-23646-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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