Where Blood Red Road (2011) was fast-paced and chaotic, this meandering book just bogs down.

REBEL HEART

From the Dustlands series , Vol. 2

Good post-apocalyptic fiction raises questions about humankind's capacity to learn from its mistakes, but this thinly-plotted second installment of the Dustlands trilogy is not up to the task.

Here, the common folk, with all the trappings of peasantry from centuries past, are lifted from their mean lives by shamans, sweat lodges and vision quests. Heroes and heroines rise from the ranks to battle the evil Tonton and their new leader, the Pathfinder, who's set upon slaughtering the old and weak and creating a race of settlers for New Eden. Wrecker civilization has left car-strewn hillsides, imposing concrete buildings and wastelands for Saba and her motley crew to traverse. But Saba, with a price on her head, mostly wants to be left alone to ride west to reunite with her one true love, Jack—although she's tempted by others along the way. Derivative plot elements, from the nine black-robed men on horseback to the Wraithway, are not helped by the progressively garbled syntax that connotes not so much a dialect as the well-worn trope of the noble savage. Saba finds the Wraithway filled with evidence of Wreckers' "earth hate.…The skellentons of their buildins. The toppled chimleys," a place haunted by "the spirits of earth an water."

Where Blood Red Road (2011) was fast-paced and chaotic, this meandering book just bogs down. (Post-apocalyptic adventure. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-3000-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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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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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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