THE SAFEST LIES

Kelsey has lived her entire 17 years with her mother in a house set up like a fortress. When her agoraphobic mom disappears, Kelsey finds herself in real danger.

Kelsey’s mother was a famous kidnapping victim, and Kelsey is the daughter of the kidnapper. Her mom has no memory of the year she spent confined in a dark basement, but when she escaped she bought an upscale secluded house and rigged it up with a sophisticated security system, complete with barred windows and a panic room. A traffic accident puts the white teen in contact with classmate Ryan, a volunteer firefighter (and also white) who rescues her. On returning home from a ceremony honoring him, Kelsey realizes not only that her mother is missing, but that someone is trying to get into the house, sending her and Ryan into the panic room. Once their ordeal ends, Kelsey’s full of questions about her still-missing mother. All of Kelsey’s life, her mom has taught her to lie. Can it be that her mom has lied to her? Miranda writes some marvelously suspenseful scenes and keeps the story’s pace zooming along at a high clip during extensive action scenes. She keeps an underlying plotline of a romance with Ryan flowing along, and it provides nice relief from the suspense. If Ryan seems a bit too good to be true, fans won’t mind.

Positively movie-ready. (Thriller. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-53751-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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