Genuine high school drama, painfully inspiring for the #MeToo age

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THE ACCIDENTAL BAD GIRL

A once-popular prep school girl, blackmailed into working for a drug dealer, sleuths out the true criminals.

Kendall was once a member of the popular clique of mean girls, until she was caught having sex with her best friend’s ex at the end of junior year. Nobody blames Grant for the semi-public sex, but Kendall starts senior year ostracized: Her friends have shut her out, she’s being slut-shamed, and she’s even physically attacked at school. Someone’s hacked her Facebook account, making it look like she’s been spending time with a drug dealer. Mason, the young white man who provides Ecstasy to local teens, improbably blackmails Kendall into delivering his drugs. As the wealthy white girl encounters careless malevolence throughout her community, she rages against gender-biased social standards. The boys—college bros, dealers, nerds—all share a sense of entitlement when it comes to the girls’ bodies and behavior. Kendall begins by looking out for No. 1, but as she discovers her part in something far more vile than delivering Ecstasy, she considers putting herself on the line to do what’s right. Ultimately, the girls, while never holding hands and singing “Kumbaya,” do come together to fight against rape culture.

Genuine high school drama, painfully inspiring for the #MeToo age . (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2858-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in...

DEAR MARTIN

In this roller-coaster ride of a debut, the author summons the popular legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to respond to the recent tragic violence befalling unarmed black men and boys.

Seventeen-year-old black high school senior Justyce McAllister, a full-scholarship student at the virtually all-white Braselton Prep, is the focus. After a bloody run-in with the police when they take his good deed for malice, Justyce seeks meaning in a series of letters with his “homie” Dr. King. He writes, “I thought if I made sure to be an upstanding member of society, I’d be exempt from the stuff THOSE black guys deal with, you know?” While he’s ranked fourth in his graduating class and well-positioned for the Ivy League, Justyce is coming to terms with the fact that there’s not as much that separates him from “THOSE black guys” as he’d like to believe. Despite this, Stone seems to position Justyce and his best friend as the decidedly well-mannered black children who are deserving of readers’ sympathies. They are not those gangsters that can be found in Justyce’s neighborhood. There’s nuance to be found for sure, but not enough to upset the dominant narrative. What if they weren’t the successful kids? While the novel intentionally leaves more questions than it attempts to answer, there are layers that still remain between the lines.

Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in the face. Take interest and ask questions. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93949-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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