High-octane espionage that’s heavy on thrills but light on character growth.



From the Raven Files series , Vol. 2

Teen spy Jocelyn recruits double agents from KATO to gain intelligence, but can she trust them?

Jocelyn Steely, now code-named Raven, has a new mission at the International Defense Agency. She and Travis (code name: Scorpion), her former enemy–turned-confidant, must find Eliza Foster, an English girl kidnapped by KATO as leverage against her weapons-expert father. The situation is personal: Joss was taken for similar reasons. She’s still haunted by PTSD and a lingering addiction to the drug Gerex. A decoded North Korean message pins the future of KATO’s training and control on Eliza, and when Joss extracts the girl from a safe house in Russia, it’s clear that different evils were done to her. Eliza wasn’t honed into a brutal weapon—she was an experiment. Joss decides that the only way to thwart KATO and learn the nature of what was done to Eliza is to recruit double agents. But not everyone at the IDA trusts making deals with KATO, and Joss risks being caught with the promise of no rescue regardless of new alliances. Joss’ latest mission is filled with well-paced intrigue, making for a suspenseful page-turner. However, the much-hyped North Korean agents bend to her will too easily, and attempts to build a relationship with her once-estranged father read as ancillary to the plot. For all that this is a story about North Korean espionage, racial differences are oddly downplayed; Joss, Travis, and Eliza are all evidently white.

High-octane espionage that’s heavy on thrills but light on character growth. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-17618-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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