Although aimed at LGBT readers and despite its unevenness, philosophical dystopia fans of all orientations will find much to...

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SWANS & KLONS

In an idyllic all-female future, Rubric and Salmon Jo’s luxurious life is disrupted by their Utopia’s dark side.

Ever since a chromosomal problem created the Cretinous Male, distasteful things like sexual reproduction and pregnancies were replaced by hatcheries and the genetics of 300 exemplary women—300 Jeepie Types, “Jeepie” referring to “Genotype Phenotype.” Young girls won’t encounter their Jeepie Similars (sharing a Jeepie Type) until they mature, and they rarely encounter Jeepie Similar Klons. Despite sharing Jeepie Types with humans, Klons are regarded as a different species, altered to be better suited to unpleasant labors. The exposition lacks grace as Olsen rushes to the plot, but then it rumbles along. When Rubric’s girlfriend, Salmon Jo, is assigned to the Hatchery where Klons and humans alike are decanted, her scientific curiosity uncovers their society’s big lie. Knowledge endangers them. Rubric’s plan to reveal the truth brings her to her Jeepie Similar Klon, Dream. They help Dream escape Society to freedom in the Land of the Barbarous Ones. Salmon Jo takes to life outside better than Rubric, who yearns for art over labor and wants to fight Society’s injustice. She and Dream return on a mission of liberation; disappointingly, the mission’s escalating stakes end in a cop-out.

Although aimed at LGBT readers and despite its unevenness, philosophical dystopia fans of all orientations will find much to appreciate in this story that tackles big ideas. (Dystopian adventure. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-60282-874-2

Page Count: 170

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 2

Lara Jean's romantic entanglements complicate themselves further.

In the wake of the events detailed in To All the Boys I Loved Before (2014), Lara Jean confesses her love for handsome golden boy Peter. This frees the pair to start a romantic relationship with a clean slate, but over the course of the novel it becomes clear that embarking on a relationship that turns an aggressive blind eye to baggage is never a good idea. When a viral video of a steamy love session between Peter and Lara Jean rears its ugly head and a boy from the past enters Lara Jean's life once more, Lara Jean's life gets complicated. Every character from Han’s adored previous novel is back, with new dimensions given to nearly every one of them. Subplots abound, among them two involving Lara Jean's father and Peter's ex-gal Genevieve, but benefitting most from this second look is John Ambrose McClaren, a boy briefly referenced in the former book who is thrust into the spotlight here as Peter's rival for Lara Jean's heart. With all these characters bouncing around, Han occasionally struggles to keep a steady hand on the novel's primary thrust: Lara Jean’s emotional development. Han gets the job done in the end, but this overeventful sequel pales to the original where structure is concerned. The author's greatest success remains her character work, and the book does indeed give everyone a solid arc, narrative be damned.

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2673-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2015

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