While not pushing the genre into new territory, Stone has crafted a narrative driven by that most potent of fuels: political...

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THE PERFECT CANDIDATE

During a summer internship, a teenage boy is thrust into the middle of a murderous political game in Stone’s thriller debut.

Cameron Carter is in serious trouble. He was thrilled when a summer internship in his congressman’s office, the opportunity of lifetime, landed in his lap. He makes friends with fellow interns, impresses several staffers, and even sparks a relationship with Lena Cruz, the adventurous daughter of the Mexican ambassador. But when Ariel, a staffer who had taken Cameron under her wing and asked for his help on a secret project, dies suddenly in a car crash, fissures of doubt around her death begin to break apart the shiny facade of the capital and the congressman himself. Character development takes a back seat to an enthralling plot of power, greed, and murder that threatens to swallow its protagonist whole. Cameron is something of an Everyman—a white teen in a very white Washington, D.C., he is YA’s answer to Harrison Ford—but his dogged (even reckless) proclivity for pursuing questions and some complexity with regard to his supposedly deceased mother keep readers from losing him in the high-octane plot. Some artless setup for a sequel may detract from the narrative’s overall punch, but readers can’t help but wonder what will come next.

While not pushing the genre into new territory, Stone has crafted a narrative driven by that most potent of fuels: political intrigue. (Political thriller. 14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2217-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Best leave it at maybe so.

YES NO MAYBE SO

Two 17-year-olds from the northern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, work together on a campaign for a progressive state senate candidate in an unlikely love story.

Co-authors Albertalli (Leah on the Offbeat, 2018, etc.) and Saeed (Bilal Cooks Daal, 2019, etc.) present Jamie Goldberg, a white Ashkenazi Jewish boy who suffers from being “painfully bad at anything girl-related,” and Maya Rehman, a Pakistani American Muslim girl struggling with her parents’ sudden separation. Former childhood best friends, they find themselves volunteered as a team by their mothers during a Ramadan “campaign iftar.” One canvassing adventure at a time, they grow closer despite Maya’s no-dating policy. Chapters alternate between Maya’s and Jamie’s first-person voices. The endearing, if somewhat clichéd, teens sweetly connect over similarities like divorced parents, and their activism will resonate with many. Jamie is sensitive, clumsy, and insecure; Maya is determined, sassy, a dash spoiled, and she swears freely. The novel covers timeless themes of teen activism and love-conquers-all along with election highs and lows, messy divorces, teen angst, bat mitzvah stress, social media gaffes, right-wing haters, friendship drama, and cultural misunderstandings, but the explicit advocacy at times interferes with an immersive reading experience and the text often feels repetitious. Maya’s mother is hijabi, and while Maya advocates against a hijab ban, she chooses not to wear hijab and actively wrestles with what it means to be an observant Muslim.

Best leave it at maybe so. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293704-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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