A fun and deeply satisfying read for teens. (Graphic novel. 14-18)

CHECK, PLEASE!

#HOCKEY

From the Check, Please! series , Vol. 1

A pie-baking hockey player from small-town Georgia begins college and settles into jock culture.

Eric “Bitty” Bittle’s dreams are coming true: He is starting college on the hockey team at Samwell University in Massachusetts. Bitty played hockey and figure skated competitively; unfortunately, the coed team back home did not allow “checking,” or physical contact, and Bitty’s fear of being hit becomes a real impediment in college hockey. Bitty’s team captain, Jack Zimmerman, “the hockey prince,” is determined to break Bitty of his fear of being checked. Despite Jack’s mercurial nature, Bitty develops a serious crush on the attractive athlete. As the practices and games develop, Bitty forms bonds with the other players and, after coming out, settles into college life. When sophomore year rolls around, Bitty has to face that two of his closest teammates are seniors and will be leaving soon. Based on a popular webcomic, this is a warm story with an irresistible protagonist, a clever supporting cast, and lively and plentiful game and practice scenes. There are many themes here: acceptance, standing up to fear, and finding your place, to name a few. Despite its episodic style, the humor and heart at the center of the story carry it through. The art relies on expressive facial shots to complement the snappy and sometimes-raunchy dialogue. Bitty is white, and there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A fun and deeply satisfying read for teens. (Graphic novel. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17796-4

Page Count: 290

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Romance and quantum physics intertwine in this frothy introduction to multiverse SF.

EVERYTHING I THOUGHT I KNEW

What if memories could be transplanted along with a heart?

Before Bay Area 17-year-old Chloe collapsed while running and learned about her congenital heart defect, she was a competitive senior with her eyes set on college. Life post–heart transplant is completely different, and Chloe can’t seem to connect to her old life. Inexplicably drawn to taking up surfing, she finds herself falling for Kai, her enigmatic surf instructor. But she can’t ignore the constant, haunting nightmares and surreal, fragmented memories that inexplicably bombard her. A lifelong fan of science, and especially multiverse theories, Chloe finds herself hoping that cellular memory, the ability to store memories in cells outside the brain, is true. Because she’s almost 100% sure her anonymous heart donor gave her more than just an oxygen-pumping organ. What begins as a predictable rom-com veers into alternate/parallel universe science fiction, with each layer casting more doubt on Chloe’s reliability as a narrator. A slow start with repetitive exposition gives way to a page-turning finale. SF newbies may find the conclusion thought-provoking even if the puzzle pieces of Chloe and Kai’s relationship don’t always quite click into place. Chloe is White and Kai, who is from Hawaii, is biracial (Japanese/White).

Romance and quantum physics intertwine in this frothy introduction to multiverse SF. (Science fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0776-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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A well-intentioned project whose earnest messages of empathy and equality fall short in execution.

GAME CHANGER

A timely, speculative thought experiment in perspective, privilege, and identity.

Ash Bowman is a White, heterosexual boy who doesn’t think too deeply about the plights of others. That is, until a jarring football injury shifts him into a parallel universe. At first, the changes to Ash’s world are small: Stop signs are blue, not red, for example. Then, with every tackle, Ash transports himself into a new reality, and the changes become much more pronounced. Characters change gender, social class status, sexuality, or even live in a world where racial segregation still exists. These changes in perspective prompt Ash to cultivate a greater sense of empathy and urgency regarding the suffering of others. But as reality becomes increasingly unstable, he must set the world back to rights. Ash is a clever, sincere narrator, and his journey of self-discovery is well-paced with solid twists at nearly every chapter’s end. But the project ultimately attempts to tackle too much, covering abuse, racism, homophobia, misogyny, class privilege, and more; this leads to little time and nuance dedicated to each. Unlike in real life, characters typically possess a single marginalized identity, and the interplay between struggles for progress in different areas is not explored, oversimplifying matters. The joys of queer love are shown, but experiences of being female or Black are largely presented in terms of oppression. Additionally, characters from marginalized populations are generally used for Ash’s own character development.

A well-intentioned project whose earnest messages of empathy and equality fall short in execution. (Science fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-199867-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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