A predictable but solid coming-of-age story.

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VERY IN PIECES

With her grandmother’s health rapidly failing, high school senior Very (short for Veronica) feels responsible for holding together the rest of her family.

In a family full of artists, mathematically inclined Very is the practical one, if bossy. And she’s got a lot going on. Her grandmother, a well-known poet, talks to Very about her impending death, while Ramona, Very’s younger sister, shies away from even visiting Nonnie. Their mother, a painter on sabbatical from the local college, spends her days in a drunken fog on the couch, and their father stays absorbed in his academic life as a music professor. A mysterious artist is creating an homage to Nonnie out of bottle caps and glass on the side of the garage. Very tries to shepherd Ramona through the rough first days of freshman year, but Ramona avoids her. When Very catches the eye of Dominic, a green-eyed boy with a reputation for dealing drugs, her sweet, college-bound, Korean-American boyfriend, Christian, suddenly seems rather dull. Blakemore keeps these balls in the air through Very’s precise, analytical, present-tense narration. The intervention of the assistant principal, who brings Very to her office to discuss Ramona’s absences and makes the suggestion that Ramona might benefit from seeing the school psychologist, comes across as unlikely, though it does move the plot along.

A predictable but solid coming-of-age story. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-234839-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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