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

ENEMY EXPOSURE

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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Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)

THE WAY I USED TO BE

In the three years following Eden’s brutal rape by her brother’s best friend, Kevin, she descends into anger, isolation, and promiscuity.

Eden’s silence about the assault is cemented by both Kevin’s confident assurance that if she tells anyone, “No one will ever believe you. You know that. No one. Not ever,” and a chillingly believable death threat. For the remainder of Eden’s freshman year, she withdraws from her family and becomes increasingly full of hatred for Kevin and the world she feels failed to protect her. But when a friend mentions that she’s “reinventing” herself, Eden embarks on a hopeful plan to do the same. She begins her sophomore year with new clothes and friendly smiles for her fellow students, which attract the romantic attentions of a kind senior athlete. But, bizarrely, Kevin’s younger sister goes on a smear campaign to label Eden a “totally slutty disgusting whore,” which sends Eden back toward self-destruction. Eden narrates in a tightly focused present tense how she withdraws again from nearly everyone and attempts to find comfort (or at least oblivion) through a series of nearly anonymous sexual encounters. This self-centeredness makes her relationships with other characters feel underdeveloped and even puzzling at times. Absent ethnic and cultural markers, Eden and her family and classmates are likely default white.

Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4935-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Part coming-of-age story and part exposé of Duterte’s problematic policies, this powerful and courageous story offers...

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PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING

Seventeen-year-old Jay Reguero searches for the truth about his cousin’s death amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs while on an epic trip back to his native Philippines.

Shocked out of his senioritis slumber when his beloved cousin Jun is killed by the police in the Philippines for presumably using drugs, Jay makes a radical move to spend his spring break in the Philippines to find out the whole story. Once pen pals, Jay hasn’t corresponded with Jun in years and is wracked by guilt at ghosting his cousin. A mixed heritage (his mother is white) Filipino immigrant who grew up in suburban Michigan, Jay’s connection to current-day Philippines has dulled from assimilation. His internal tensions around culture, identity, and languages—as “a spoiled American”—are realistic. Told through a mix of first-person narration, Jun’s letters to Jay, and believable dialogue among a strong, full cast of characters, the result is a deeply emotional story about family ties, addiction, and the complexity of truth. The tender relationship between Jay and Jun is especially notable—as is the underlying commentary about the challenges and nuances between young men and their uncles, fathers, male friends, and male cousins.

Part coming-of-age story and part exposé of Duterte’s problematic policies, this powerful and courageous story offers readers a refreshingly emotional depiction of a young man of color with an earnest desire for the truth. (author’s note, recommended reading) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55491-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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