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From the Forget Tomorrow series

Savvy writing begets effervescent characters in this futuristic saga, with a gratifying conclusion in every respect.

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In this final chapter of a YA sci-fi trilogy, a precognitive teen fights to prevent a genocide—at her mother’s hands—and falls for a boy destined to be her murderer.

Olivia’s not a typical 17-year-old in futuristic North Amerie; that’s the age others see a glimpse of their future. But Olivia, daughter of Chairwoman Dresden, who heads the governing entity, Committee of Agencies, is precognitive. She’s spent a decade in an isolated cabin, building mental walls to block the flood of millions of people’s futures. She can see the various paths individuals may take, including her mother’s potential execution of children receiving mediocre future memories. This is why Jessa Stone is the chairwoman’s personal assistant; she betrayed her family, part of the anti-ComA Underground, to get close to Dresden and stop her. When the Future Memory Agency captures Jessa’s childhood best friend, thoroughly muscled Ryder Russell, agents forcibly extract his future memory, in which he kills Olivia. Regardless, Olivia, aware of Jessa’s plan, is determined to help and aids in Ryder’s escape. Not surprisingly, he has trouble trusting her, as do his loved ones in the Underground. As the teens’ mutual affection grows, however, they ultimately face another threat—a virus that could destroy everyone in the world. As in the preceding books, Dunn’s (Remember Yesterday, 2016, etc.) genuinely romantic scenes are adorned in ardent prose: Olivia’s astonished that she has “such soft feelings for such a hard boy.” But Olivia, like earlier protagonists (including Jessa), is keen and resourceful. She’s especially appealing for overcoming her nickname, Shadow, known as the girl merely observing without taking action. The third entry addresses and expounds on numerous series questions, from insight into what the chairwoman’s been doing (scores of murders and torture) to the origin of Olivia’s ability. Reading the first two novels isn’t a necessity but does enhance the whole experience, particularly with so many returning characters and plot twists that link the entire trilogy.

Savvy writing begets effervescent characters in this futuristic saga, with a gratifying conclusion in every respect.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63375-818-6

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2017

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From the Boys of Tommen series , Vol. 1

A troubling depiction of an unhealthy relationship.

A battered girl and an injured rugby star spark up an ill-advised romance at an Irish secondary school.

Beautiful, waiflike, 15-year-old Shannon has lived her entire life in Ballylaggin. Alternately bullied at school and beaten by her ne’er-do-well father, she’s hopeful for a fresh start at Tommen, a private school. Seventeen-year-old Johnny, who has a hair-trigger temper and a severe groin injury, is used to Dublin’s elite-level rugby but, since his family’s move to County Cork, is now stuck captaining Tommen’s middling team. When Johnny angrily kicks a ball and knocks Shannon unconscious (“a soft female groan came from her lips”), a tentative relationship is born. As the two grow closer, Johnny’s past and Shannon’s present become serious obstacles to their budding love, threatening Shannon’s safety. Shannon’s portrayal feels infantilized (“I looked down at the tiny little female under my arm”), while Johnny comes across as borderline obsessive (“I knew I shouldn’t be touching her, but how the hell could I not?”). Uneven pacing and choppy sentences lead to a sudden climax and an unsatisfyingly abrupt ending. Repetitive descriptions, abundant and misogynistic dialogue (Johnny, to his best friend: “who’s the bitch with a vagina now?”), and graphic violence also weigh down this lengthy tome (considerably trimmed down from its original, self-published length). The cast of lively, well-developed supporting characters, especially Johnny’s best friend and Shannon’s protective older brother, is a bright spot. Major characters read white.

A troubling depiction of an unhealthy relationship. (author’s note, pronunciations, glossary, song moments, playlists) (Romance. 16-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2023

ISBN: 9781728299945

Page Count: 626

Publisher: Bloom Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

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From the Culpable series , Vol. 2

Plenty of heat but not enough substance to keep the fire burning.

A romantically entangled stepbrother and stepsister in Los Angeles navigate their tumultuous history and take their relationship to new levels in this translated title by an Argentinian author.

Nick and Noah are madly in love: Their mutual attraction is established as the book opens with Noah’s 18th birthday party, during which she and Nick have an explicitly described sexual encounter behind the pool house. This fiery scene sets the stage for twists and turns in the lovers’ journey, including a separation when Noah is forced to go on a monthlong mother-daughter European tour. But reminders of their pasts (chronicled in the 2023 series opener, My Fault) threaten to undermine their stability. Nick’s wealthy estranged mother makes an unfortunate appearance, while Noah is haunted by the trauma of her father’s violent death. The blend of everyday complications (jealousy, parental disapproval) with frothy visions of high-society life is at once lacking in subtlety and intimately irresistible. The series initially gained popularity on Wattpad, and the novel follows the episodic structure typical of works on that site; sensual encounters occur at reliable intervals. Still, the characters and their milieu feel formulaic, and the writing is stilted. The differences between the two—Nick is five years older and has an office job; Noah has just finished high school—makes their suffocatingly possessive relationship feel particularly squirm-worthy. Nick and Noah and their families read white.

Plenty of heat but not enough substance to keep the fire burning. (Romance. 16-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781728290768

Page Count: 450

Publisher: Bloom Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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