Kaelyn’s grim determination and character growth offer readers a reprieve from bleakness, leaving them ready for the next...

THE LIVES WE LOST

From the Fallen World series , Vol. 2

The disease from The Way We Fall (2012) has reached the mainland, but so has Kaelyn, carrying a potential vaccine.

Kaelyn finally accesses her dead father’s laboratory and finds that he created an untested vaccine for the deadly flu before he was murdered. With the island no longer under quarantine, Kaelyn knows she must get the notes and samples to mainland scientists who can recreate it, if humanity is to have any hope of survival. But the mainland is more devastated than she imagined. The novel’s title can refer both to the mass deaths and, more poignantly, to the pre-flu world Kaelyn mourns—the desire to return civilization to what was lost pushes her ever forward and strengthens her resolve. Since Kaelyn is immune, the virus is less of a threat than other people; a highly organized band of survivors wishes to get the vaccine for themselves. But Kaelyn spends more time worrying about the state of her friendship with Leo than considering them. Although the prose is no longer a diary, it’s still related in the first-person—sometimes a bit too unevenly, as side characters get lost in the background, although they are ostensibly present and active. The ending sets up the next book instead of offering any resolution.

Kaelyn’s grim determination and character growth offer readers a reprieve from bleakness, leaving them ready for the next installment. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-4617-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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