Unabashedly didactic, but moving nonetheless.

JUMPED IN

A slacker learns life lessons from a slam-poet classmate in an inspiring if overly optimistic school story.

Grunge-rock devotee Sam has been trying to avoid the attention of teachers and other students ever since his mom left town two years earlier. Then the equally quiet Luis Cárdenas arrives in Sam’s English class, and meddlesome Ms. Cassidy seats the two of them together. Rumors fly about Luis: His brother is an infamous gangster, and there is a mean-looking scar on Luis’ neck. Sam doesn’t see Luis’ true colors until Ms. Cassidy announces that the class will have a poetry slam. Luis not only throws himself into creating a poem, he inspires Sam to do the same. The boys’ sudden, unmitigated enthusiasm for a school project may be hard to swallow, but there is something infectiously hopeful in Luis’ devotion to poetry, as well as in the inspiration Sam takes from old footage of Kurt Cobain. When Luis disappears after a gang fight, Sam, once a loner, teams up with classmates, teachers, neighbors and old friends to find out what has happened. Short, punchy sentences, paragraphs and chapters give the novel’s prose a sense of motion, and Luis’ poems, interspersed with the narrative, give readers added insight into Luis’ character.

Unabashedly didactic, but moving nonetheless. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9514-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else.

ALL THIS TIME

A modern-day fairy tale about two teenagers suffering from loss who find healing in one another.

Despite the ups and downs in their relationship, Kyle and Kimberly have always made up, and Kyle looks forward to attending college together after graduation. But on the night they should be celebrating, Kimberly confesses that she has committed to a different college and breaks up with him. As they argue, their car crashes, and Kyle later wakes up in the hospital and learns that Kimberly is dead. In his grief, Kyle blames himself for her death. He struggles to leave his bed most days, ignores calls from his and Kimberly’s best friend, Sam, and has visions of Kimberly and life before the accident. One day, while visiting Kimberly’s grave, he meets Marley, a girl who likes telling stories and is mourning the death of her twin sister. Predictably, their natural affinity for one another evolves into romance. It is unfortunate that Kyle essentially moves from one romantic relationship to another on his journey to better understanding himself and his co-dependence on those closest to him, although his gradual development into a more considerate person redeems him. The pacing remains even until the critical plot disruption, resulting in the rest of the story feeling disjointed and rushed. All characters are White.

For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6634-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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