A fast-moving tale of obsession and redemption.

THE FIXES

Capilano High School student Eric Connelly finds that first love can have explosive consequences.

Eric is supposed to become a Connelly Man like his father, Sen. Donovan Connelly, by following the Plan: take a summer internship in a law firm, attend Stanford, build a career in corporate law, have a fine family, and run for office. He must “LIVE UP TO HIS POTENTIAL,” “MEET EXPECTATIONS,” and never, ever, “TARNISH THE FAMILY NAME.” The problem is that “Connelly Men do not hook up with guys,” and Eric has a crush on Jordan Grant, a rich, handsome, “one-way ticket to nowhere.” With Eric and a couple of girls, Jordan forms the Suicide Pack, and the four white students embark on a series of “fixes,” supposedly to fight the corruption and hypocrisy of their town. But it’s a descent into chaos—trashing offices, shoplifting, stealing cars, making bombs, and committing murder. The third-person omniscient narrator never lets the reader forget that Eric is a Connelly Man, even as Eric is anything but, though Eric’s training does, perhaps, allow for “Redemption. (Kind of.)” Matthews’ stylized, telegraphic prose style of short words, short sentences, and frequent, short (even one-word) chapters comes in handy as the story gathers momentum for a riveting final fifth, as Eric must find a way to stop the escalating violence.

A fast-moving tale of obsession and redemption. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-233689-7

Page Count: 528

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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An accomplished, exciting debut.

ALL THE STARS AND TEETH

From the All the Stars and Teeth series , Vol. 1

A princess embarks on a dangerous path to the throne.

In the island kingdom of Visidia, where each person is allowed just one type of magic, only the members of the royal Montara family have the ability to wield the dangerous soul magic. Princess Amora is next in line to be High Animancer, but she must first prove to her people that she is powerful enough to use her magic to protect them. But something goes terribly wrong during a critical public ceremony, and Amora runs away with dashing pirate Bastian, whose rescue comes with a price: She must help him recover his own magic, stolen away by a dangerous man leading a growing rebellion that could bring down the whole kingdom. Debut author Grace wields her own magic with a skillful balancing act between high-stakes adventure (here there be monsters, mermaids, and high-seas shenanigans), bloody fantasy, and character development in a story with a lovable found family at its core. Amora yearns for adventure just as she welcomes her right to command her kingdom; her ferocious sense of duty and legitimate need to do good shine through. The novel’s further unravelling of dark secrets long kept comes with a recognized need for accountability and making amends which adds a thoughtful extra layer to the rich worldbuilding. Amora has copper-brown skin and dark, curly hair; other characters have a range of skin tones in this diverse world.

An accomplished, exciting debut. (guide to the kingdom) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30778-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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