A nifty idea clumsily executed.

THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE CURSED

From the Dispossessed Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A newish supernatural being arrives in this straight-out gothic saga.

Gargoyles, forced to protect humans from demons, lurk overhead on the old Gothic church in Paris bought by a titled English family in 1899. Gargoyle Luc tries to protect the family’s two daughters as they roam Paris looking for their missing brother, Grayson. Proper in name only, Ingrid, 17 and the story’s main heroine, doesn’t bother with chaperones, while Gabby, at 15, dresses in a sexy red dress and goes out to visit men alone. Meanwhile, hellhounds are slaughtering Paris’ population of young ladies. Readers learn early that Grayson is a prisoner in the Underneath, where gargoyles and humans cannot go. Luc can’t seem to do his protecting job properly even with the help of the Alliance, a group of humans who also fight demons. Forbidden romance and hot kissing scenes abound. Gargoyles are not yet overexposed in books for teens, and Morgan’s description of the Underneath also stands out as inventive. However, the gothic genre leads her into the usual conventions of sentence fragments and hyperbole (“Hesitation meant death”). Her execution of the story comes across as awkward and inexpert, with much repetition. The concept may be somewhat new, but the plotline could have been lifted from any 1930s monster movie, including the villain who obligingly explains all before attacking.

A nifty idea clumsily executed. (Paranormal suspense. 12 & up)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-385-74311-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist.

LOCK THE DOORS

A blended family seeks a fresh start in a new home.

Tom’s mother believes that the family may have finally found happiness. After years of dating losers, she’s finally settled down with a nice guy—and that nice guy, Jay, happens to have a daughter, Nia, who is just a little older than Tom. The new family has moved into a nice new house, but Tom can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong. They discover a strange message written on the wall when they are stripping the old wallpaper, and there’s clear evidence that the previous owners had installed locks on the exteriors of the bedroom doors. Those previous owners happen to live a little farther down the street, and Tom quickly becomes obsessed with their teenage daughter, Amy, and the secrets she’s hiding. This obsession unfortunately becomes a repetitive slog involving many pages of Tom’s brooding and sulking over the same bits of information while everyone tells him to move on. Readers will be on everyone’s side. But then, a blessed breath of fresh air: The perspective shifts to Amy, and readers learn in spectacularly propulsive fashion exactly what she’s hiding. Regret and intrigue blend perfectly as Amy divulges her secrets. Alas, we return to navel-gazing Tom for the book’s final pages, and everything ends with a shrug. Main characters default to White.

A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72823-189-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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