STICK

In this new football novel, a nerdy superhero and a clueless sports star demonstrate that all the play-by-play that really matters is mostly off the field.

The actual game of football almost disappears in this look at the good vs. evil among sports coaches, parents, teammates, and so on. Under his father’s tutelage, Brett, better known as Stick, has been dedicated to football since he was very young, mostly loving the game and energized by his skill, but the thrill may be fading. In part due to the unending pressure and in part due to the bullying his teammates inflict on Preston, a nonathletic, comic-book–loving classmate, Stick begins to see his father, coach, and teammates in a new light. Stick decides to quit the team just as a UCLA scholarship is in the offing. He’s also failing at math, which drives Stick to seek out Preston for tutoring, a relationship that gives him a greater understanding of Preston’s quiet strengths. A superhero element gradually emerges, and with Preston’s guidance, Stick begins to parse the difference between motivations and results—maybe he can find a way to play football without violating his moral code. Readers may find some supporting characters’ development and growth difficult to believe, but they will nevertheless respond to Stick’s awakening to the wider world and the complexity of navigating it.

Engaging and uplifting. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75436-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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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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For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else.

ALL THIS TIME

A modern-day fairy tale about two teenagers suffering from loss who find healing in one another.

Despite the ups and downs in their relationship, Kyle and Kimberly have always made up, and Kyle looks forward to attending college together after graduation. But on the night they should be celebrating, Kimberly confesses that she has committed to a different college and breaks up with him. As they argue, their car crashes, and Kyle later wakes up in the hospital and learns that Kimberly is dead. In his grief, Kyle blames himself for her death. He struggles to leave his bed most days, ignores calls from his and Kimberly’s best friend, Sam, and has visions of Kimberly and life before the accident. One day, while visiting Kimberly’s grave, he meets Marley, a girl who likes telling stories and is mourning the death of her twin sister. Predictably, their natural affinity for one another evolves into romance. It is unfortunate that Kyle essentially moves from one romantic relationship to another on his journey to better understanding himself and his co-dependence on those closest to him, although his gradual development into a more considerate person redeems him. The pacing remains even until the critical plot disruption, resulting in the rest of the story feeling disjointed and rushed. All characters are White.

For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6634-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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