Not all readers will embrace this novel’s haunting, open-ended conclusion, but those who do will find much to appreciate and...

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THE ISLAND

A teen struggles against both nature and her own past experiences in a reflective survival tale.

Sixteen-year-old Frances Stanton considers herself a monster. She likens herself to the gorgon Medusa, longs to be as emotionless as a rock, and drops dark hints about the crime that landed her on an airplane bound for a rehabilitative adventure experience. When that plane crashes into the Indian Ocean en route to Indonesia, Frances climbs aboard a life raft, floating to a small island. Levez keeps the stakes agonizingly high as Fran fights for her life, making incremental gains, trying to prevent catastrophic losses, and slowly forging a deep bond with another castaway, Rufus. (Both characters seem to be white.) Events on the island alternate with Fran’s memories of what led up to her current situation: she set fire to a wing of her London school, seriously (though accidentally) injuring a young teacher who, intending to help, was responsible for the removal into protective custody of Fran’s biracial younger brother, Johnny. Fran is intensely protective of Johnny against both their mother, Cassie—a rather pathetic figure dependent on pot and alcohol—and Cassie’s predatory boyfriend and quasi-pimp. Readers will quickly see that conditions on the island are more physically dangerous than in Fran’s squalid apartment—but much less emotionally treacherous.

Not all readers will embrace this novel’s haunting, open-ended conclusion, but those who do will find much to appreciate and discuss. (Adventure. 13-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-78074-859-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Rock the Boat/Oneworld

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A purple page turner.

CLOCKWORK PRINCE

From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Clockwork Angel (2010) pits gorgeous, attractively broken teens against a menacing evil.

There's betrayal, mayhem and clockwork monstrosities, and the Shadowhunters have only two weeks to discover—oh, who are we kidding? The plot is only surprisingly tasty icing on this cupcake of a melodramatic love triangle. Our heroes are Tessa, who may or may not be a warlock, and the beautiful Shadowhunter warrior boys who are moths to her forbidden flame. It's not always clear why Tessa prefers Will to his beloved (and only) friend Jem, the dying, silver-eyed, biracial sweetheart with the face of an angel. Jem, after all, is gentle and kind, her dearest confidante; Will is unpleasant to everyone around him. But poor, wretched Will—who "would have been pretty if he had not been so tall and so muscular"—has a deep, dark, thoroughly emo secret. His trauma puts all previous romantic difficulties to shame, from the Capulet/Montague feud all the way to Edward Cullen's desire to chomp on Bella Swan. Somehow there's room for an interesting steampunk mystery amid all this angst. The supporting characters (unusually well-developed for a love-triangle romance) include multiple compelling young women who show strength in myriad ways. So what if there are anachronisms, character inconsistencies and weird tonal slips? There's too much overwrought fun to care.

A purple page turner. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7588-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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