Light and nostalgic but lacks depth.

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THE MALL

The mall takes center stage in this ’90s coming-of-age tale.

Cassie Worthy works at a New Jersey mall while counting down the days until she heads off to college. After being stuck at home with mono for the past six weeks, she plans on triumphantly returning to her job at America’s Best Cookie with her boyfriend, Troy—but it goes horribly wrong when she finds herself attacked by Troy’s new girlfriend with a spritz of cucumber-melon fragrance to the face. Cassie manages to get hired as a bookkeeper at an upscale boutique. The owner’s gorgeous daughter, Drea Bellarosa, needs nerdy Cassie’s help searching for a rumored stash of long-hidden drug money, and they spend the summer following clues hidden in Cabbage Patch Kids that point to locations around the mall. Drea also promises to help Cassie with her heartbreak, saying “the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.” In the first-person narration, elitist Cassie makes numerous judgmental remarks about other women and their clothing and behavior, frequently referring to them as sluts and bimbos, as well as being dismissive of boys she regards as less intelligent than she. The narrative is rife with pop-culture references, quirky characters, and over-the-top ridiculous comedy—which unfortunately falls flat. The majority of the cast is white apart from Cassie’s Japanese American mall-employee crush.

Light and nostalgic but lacks depth. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20995-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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