BE NOT FAR FROM ME

A Tennessee teen must put her wilderness survival skills to the ultimate test after becoming separated from her friends during a camping trip in the Smoky Mountains.

Seventeen-year-old cross-country star Ashley Hawkins and her friends Meredith and Kavita are looking forward to a night of camping and drinking beer with classmates along the Appalachian Trail. Ashley wants to spend time with her boyfriend, Duke, but when his ex, Natalie, shows up, Ashley is less than thrilled. When she catches them together later that night, Ashley punches Duke in the face and flees headlong into disaster: A boulder crushes part of her foot, and to her horror, she soon realizes that she’s far from camp and very much alone. In the grueling days that follow, with infection setting in and no supplies at hand, Ashley battles hunger and the elements while reflecting on her life, from her mother’s abandonment to her underprivileged upbringing, as well as on a young man who disappeared in these very woods two years ago. McGinnis’ (Heroine, 2019, etc.) visceral and emotional tale features a strong, stubborn, and alarmingly capable protagonist with unwavering respect for the natural world, and if a few twists rely a bit too much on coincidence, readers will likely be too invested in Ashley’s fate to mind. All major characters seem to be white except Indian American Kavita, the only student of color at their school.

Impossible to put down. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-256162-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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 slo-mo environmental disaster story.

THE NATURE OF WITCHES

Weather witches confront climate change in this fantasy.

Clara Densmore is her generation’s sole Everwitch and is unwilling to embrace her powers. Unlike the male and female autumn, winter, spring, and summer witches, whose powers peak during their respective seasons, Clara thrives year-round. At the Eastern School of Solar Magic in Pennsylvania, 17-year-old Clara shuns friendships and only does short-term flings, as her love can be lethal and has already killed her parents and best friend. Losing her powers seems like the selfless solution, but nonmagical shaders have pushed the planet too far with their environmental destruction. Seasonal witches are starting to die amid accelerated natural disasters—and only Clara can save the world. A budding romance with magical mentor/visiting botany student 18-year-old Sang Park from California helps Clara bloom. Redheaded, blue-eyed Clara is cued as White, and Sang is Korean American—but race, class, and other identity-related concerns are rarely a factor in this world. Debut author Griffin unfortunately fails to breathe new life into chosen one fantasy tropes—the obligatory villain, the unavoidable romance, the overly dramatic sacrifice—but excels at lush and lovely descriptions of nature and the weather and delivers a stern, if heavy-handed, message about environmental consequences of modern living.

A slo-mo environmental disaster story. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-942-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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