The rare sequel that properly expands the characters, world, and themes of its predecessor.


From the Vicarious series , Vol. 2

Winter Kim searches for a brother she’s never known.

Korean-American Winter Kim’s beloved sister, Rose, is dead. A mysterious businessman, Kyung, is responsible, and Winter is determined to make him pay. Armed with Vicarious Sensory Experiences technology and aided by her friends (Mexican-American Jesse Ramirez and racially ambiguous former mercenary Baz Faber), Winter sets off for Seoul to discover the truth about Kyung and protect her long-lost brother, Jun. Most of the pros and cons of the series’ first installment reoccur here. The sci-fi world Winter inhabits expands and contracts in involving ways. The author excels at weaving her characters and narrative together, making each element propel the others. The romance between Winter and Jesse heats up slowly but surely, with enough sizzle to keep readers interested but not so much that it overpowers the narrative’s primary thrust. The first novel exploited Winter’s dissociative identity disorder to fold the mystery upon itself with mixed results. Here, Winter’s DID is developed further and put to use in more dramatic circumstances. Rose still resides in Winter’s head, but a third personality, the bloodthirsty Lily, begins to emerge as well. Stokes twists this as best she can, but the plot-driven way she uses the condition still feels somewhat problematic.

The rare sequel that properly expands the characters, world, and themes of its predecessor. (Science fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7653-8096-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.


From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Several yards short of a touchdown.


A transgender boy starting over at a new school falls hard for a popular cheerleader with a reputation to protect in this debut.

On the first day of senior year, transgender boy Pony locks eyes with cisgender cheerleader Georgia. They both have pasts they want to leave behind. No one at Hillcrest High knows that Pony is transgender, and he intends to keep it that way. Georgia’s last boyfriend shook her trust in boys, and now she’s determined to forget him. As mutual attraction draws them together, Pony and Georgia must decide what they are willing to risk for a relationship. Pony’s best friend, Max, who is also transgender, disapproves of Pony’s choice to live stealth; this disagreement leads to serious conflict in their relationship. Meanwhile, Georgia and Pony behave as if Pony’s trans identity was a secret he was lying to her about rather than private information for him to share of his own volition. The characters only arrive at a hopeful resolution after Pony pays high physical and emotional prices. McSmith places repeated emphasis on the born-in-the-wrong-body narrative when the characters discuss trans identities. Whiteness is situated as the norm, and all main characters are white.

Several yards short of a touchdown. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294317-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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