Captivating to the very end.

LIARS, INC.

When Max's friend goes missing, he finds himself in the middle of an increasingly tangled web of lies and conspiracy.

Max's two best friends in the world are his girlfriend, Parvati, and a senator's son, Preston. The three share a gift for lying effectively, and when Preston asks Max to give him an alibi so he can go to Vegas, Max doesn't even blink. But when Preston doesn't return the next morning, Max suddenly becomes the prime person of interest. With Parvati's help, Max does his best to clear his name and discover Preston's true whereabouts. As the mystery unfolds, readers will be put on edge for two reasons: first, Stokes' superb knack for misdirection and intrigue, and second, Max's increasingly poor decisions. Whenever a fork in the road appears and Max must choose between cooperating with the police and making himself a guiltier target, he chooses the latter. This quality is frustrating but remarkably endearing. Max is so well-drawn it's hard not to be completely sympathetic to his predicament. As the ground beneath his feet falls away, Max uncovers bigger and stranger clues regarding Preston's fate, and the author twists and turns at all the right moments. Even the keenest mystery buffs will be hard-pressed to predict the book's finale, which packs quite the emotional and physical punch. 

Captivating to the very end. (Mystery. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-232328-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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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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A successful romantic enterprise.

THE UPSIDE OF FALLING

High school seniors do the fake dating thing.

Brett Wells has always been focused on football. Brainy Becca Hart’s faith in love was destroyed by her parents’ divorce. The two have little in common other than being pestered by their friends and families about the lack of a special someone in their lives. They embark upon a “fake relationship,” but, predictably, it gives way to a real one. Debut author Light sprinkles in just enough charm and good-natured romance as the narrative bounces between Brett’s and Becca’s perspectives to keep readers engaged but not overwhelmed by twee sentiment. Becca is a much better developed character than Brett (handsome yet doofy, he has the complexity of a golden retriever), and her chapters are the novel’s highlights. Brett’s whole deal is a bigger pill to swallow, but readers who go with it will find a pleasant story. The novel is a syrupy ode to what it feels like to slowly fall for someone for the first time, and that mood is captured effectively. Becca and Brett have chemistry that feels completely natural, but sadly there are some late-in-the-game plot mechanics that feel forced. Fortunately, the author seems as uninterested in these disruptions as readers will be: Things are resolved quickly, and the novel ends on a high note. Whiteness is situated as the norm; main characters are white.

A successful romantic enterprise. (Romance. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-291805-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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