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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A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary,...

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THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE

The pitiless dictatorship of Francisco Franco examined through the voices of four teenagers: one American and three Spaniards.

The Spanish Civil War lasted from 1936-1939, but Franco held Spain by its throat for 36 years. Sepetys (Salt to the Sea, 2016, etc.) begins her novel in 1957. Daniel is a white Texan who wants to be a photojournalist, not an oilman; Ana is trying to work her way to respectability as a hotel maid; her brother, Rafael, wants to erase memories of an oppressive boys’ home; and Puri is a loving caregiver for babies awaiting adoption—together they provide alternating third-person lenses for viewing Spain during one of its most brutally repressive periods. Their lives run parallel and intersect as each tries to answer questions about truth and the path ahead within a regime that crushes any opposition, murders dissidents, and punishes their families while stealing babies to sell to parents with accepted political views. This formidable story will haunt those who ask hard questions about the past as it reveals the hopes and dreams of individuals in a nation trying to lie its way to the future. Meticulous research is presented through believable, complex characters on the brink of adulthood who personalize the questions we all must answer about our place in the world. 

A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary, photographs) (Historical fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-16031-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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This brutal, emotionally charged novel will grip readers and leave them brokenhearted

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THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS

A minute-by-minute account of mass murder at a high school by a former student.

Four students from a range of different backgrounds at Alabama's Opportunity High, all of whom have a history with Tyler, the gunman, take turns telling this harrowing story in the first person. They include his sister, Autumn, and her clandestine girlfriend, Sylv, who have only each other for solace as the home lives of both are in upheaval. Tomás, Sylv's brother, recounts his and his friend Fareed's desperate efforts to help from outside the school's auditorium, where their fellow students and teachers are locked in with Tyler as he picks them off one by one. Finally, Claire, Tyler's ex-girlfriend, realistically agonizes over what to do when she and a few others outside running track realize that the gunshots they hear are coming from inside the school. Grounded in the present, the story makes effective use of flashbacks that lay bare the pain and deception that have led up to the day's horror. The language can occasionally feel a bit melodramatic, with lines like "we're fighting for hope and a thousand tomorrows," but this is a minor side note to this compelling story of terror, betrayal, and heroism.

This brutal, emotionally charged novel will grip readers and leave them brokenhearted . (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4926-2246-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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