While the adrenaline rush will draw readers in, it’s the unsettling question posed by the program title that will linger.

FLASH POINT

In an idea-packed near-future thriller, reality TV pits teens against increasingly deadly virtual traps.

Amy Kent is only 16, and she’s bone-weary of the responsibility of supporting her resentful younger sister and terminally ill Gran. But the global economic collapse has left most people in desperate straits, so when Amy gets a chance for good pay with family medical benefits, she grabs at it despite her doubts. As one of seven teenagers on Who Knows People, Baby—You?, she is under constant camera surveillance that allows viewers to compete to predict how each cast member will respond to unexpected situations. But as ratings pressures and political tensions mount, the scenarios become more dangerous, and Amy and the rest become less and less certain of what is staged, what is real and whom to trust. The theme of corrupt adults manipulating youth into violence and death to entertain a decadent audience will inevitably invite comparisons to the Hunger Games trilogy, as will the breakneck, twisty plot. The day-after-tomorrow setting, anchored by brand-name allusions and crises ripped from the headlines, adds both eerie familiarity and terrifying plausibility. Most striking, though, is the complex characterization, with its emphatic insistence that no one—hero or villain—is anything less than a complicated mixture of good and bad, strength and weakness, compassion and selfishness.

While the adrenaline rush will draw readers in, it’s the unsettling question posed by the program title that will linger. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-01247-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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

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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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A worthy successor to an explosive debut.

BLOODMARKED

From the Legendborn series , Vol. 2

After Awakening the dormant spirit of her ancestor King Arthur Pendragon, almost-17-year-old Briana Matthews must fight to learn and control her magical inheritances.

As a Black person who also possesses the ability to use Root, a form of magic borrowed from deceased practitioners and passed down to her through her mother’s family, Bree is unique in the Line of Pendragon. It is through blood and violence that Bree’s magical abilities intertwined—both those from Arthur’s Welsh origins and from her family’s Bloodcraft originating during chattel slavery in the American South. Together they have turned her into one of the most powerful people either Line has ever known. The intricacies of her navigation of her new powers are at the heart of this sequel to Legendborn (2020), especially as Bree balances the knowledge that her Blackness creates a critical distance between her and the racist people she is sworn to protect as the king of all Legendborns. The plot is complex, and the morsels of information that help fill in the gaps of knowledge don’t always feel fully formed, which may leave readers confused as they try to keep up with the new powers and beings that are presented. Still, there are important, if hard to read, references, for example, when Bree is kidnapped and experimented on by an all-White council, a turn of events that reflects Deonn’s commitment to presenting unflinching truths about the cyclical insidiousness of racism.

A worthy successor to an explosive debut. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4163-7

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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