Teens who enjoy snarky commentary on high school life may be satisfied with these shortcuts, but Norton doesn't open any new...

NEANDERTHAL OPENS THE DOOR TO THE UNIVERSE

All the tropes of YA fiction—suicide, depression, drug abuse, bullying, problems of race, class, and gender, high school cliques, and their ensuing drama—are exploited in this mildly entertaining novel.

Sixteen-year-old Cliff is a basically likable teen, but with a passive mother, alcoholic father, and dead brother, he has issues to work through, not least of which is his size. At 6 feet 6 inches tall and 250 pounds, he’s earned the unwelcome nickname “Neanderthal.” When Aaron, one of Cliff's tormentors, returns to Happy Valley High School following a coma-induced change of heart, he insists that God has given him a list of tasks that he and Cliff must complete together. The boys' rapid change from animosity to friendship as they work on the list is convenient but unlikely. The romantic threads in the story are equally unrealistic, serving mostly as a way to introduce sexual fantasy into the narrative. All this is revealed in first-person narration and expletive-laced dialogue. Norton (Marrow, 2015, etc.) seems to be working too hard to be cool. Too much happens, too quickly to these stereotypical characters: jocks, stoners, computer nerds, airhead girls, and Jesus teens. A harsh principal and an English teacher who has lost his passion for teaching have similarly quick attitude adjustments.

Teens who enjoy snarky commentary on high school life may be satisfied with these shortcuts, but Norton doesn't open any new doors to the high school universe. (Fiction. 15-18)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4847-9062-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues...

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THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

He’s in remission from the osteosarcoma that took one of his legs. She’s fighting the brown fluid in her lungs caused by tumors. Both know that their time is limited.

Sparks fly when Hazel Grace Lancaster spies Augustus “Gus” Waters checking her out across the room in a group-therapy session for teens living with cancer. He’s a gorgeous, confident, intelligent amputee who always loses video games because he tries to save everyone. She’s smart, snarky and 16; she goes to community college and jokingly calls Peter Van Houten, the author of her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, her only friend besides her parents. He asks her over, and they swap novels. He agrees to read the Van Houten and she agrees to read his—based on his favorite bloodbath-filled video game. The two become connected at the hip, and what follows is a smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance. From their trip to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive Van Houten to their hilariously flirty repartee, readers will swoon on nearly every page. Green’s signature style shines: His carefully structured dialogue and razor-sharp characters brim with genuine intellect, humor and desire. He takes on Big Questions that might feel heavy-handed in the words of any other author: What do oblivion and living mean? Then he deftly parries them with humor: “My nostalgia is so extreme that I am capable of missing a swing my butt never actually touched.” Dog-earing of pages will no doubt ensue.

Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues to make it through Hazel and Gus’ poignant journey. (Fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-47881-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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High stakes, epic scope, intense action, and sweeping mythologies.

FURYBORN

From the Empirium Trilogy series , Vol. 1

Two girls separated by a thousand years are connected by a prophecy.

In a prologue, readers learn that pale-skinned Queen Rielle has killed her husband, the biracial Audric. She gives birth to their baby while a war between angels and humans rages. To keep the infant safe from the angels’ leader, light-skinned Corien, Rielle desperately charges a child with magical abilities to use his gifts to flee with and protect her—with mixed success. Later chapters alternate between telling Rielle’s story and flashing forward 1,020 years to focus on olive-skinned Eliana. Following a childhood tragedy, Rielle hid her staggering ability to control all seven elements until a threat against her beloved Audric caused her to reveal her gifts, prompting the Magisterial Council to impose seven trials to determine whether she was the Sun Queen or Blood Queen spoken of in prophecy. While readers start off knowing her story’s end, a steamy romance and devious twists along the way pack surprises. Eliana, meanwhile, is a deadly bounty hunter—serving an evil empire in order to protect her own family—who gets mixed up with rebels when her mother is abducted. The rigid, cliffhanger-heavy chapter structure is supported by breakneck pacing and constant action. The ending leaves neither storyline resolved.

High stakes, epic scope, intense action, and sweeping mythologies. (element guide) (Fantasy. 15-adult)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5662-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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