ECHOES OF MEMORY

From the Ravenborn series , Vol. 2

Not much here for readers looking for an engaging supernatural adventure

This sequel to Shades of Darkness (2016) follows Chris and Kaira, friends caught between mystical god-beings who fight over possession of their souls.

After Chris, a white boy, is found at the scene of the most recent of a string of murders at their boarding school, he’s haunted by the voices of birds who tell him that he is the Endbringer. A godlike being tells him that it is his destiny to kill Kaira, the girl he wants to save. Kaira, dark-skinned and generically Native American, has fallen desperately ill. Kaira finds herself in an underworld where a different being tells her she is the Shadechild and that she must kill Chris. In this underworld, gods are bound to feed the sacred Tree, which thrives only when fed with blood offered via human sacrifice. Chris’ and Kaira’s fates are intertwined, as both feel a determination to resist the pressure to kill each other, and it is only together that they might release themselves from the gods that claim them. The concept of this Norse-inflected paranormal is stronger than the actual read. The narrative stalls through lackluster pages in which little happens but angst, as if the author needs filler to get readers to the protagonists’ visits with the underworld gods, scenes that are disappointingly dull and lead to a sequel-bait ending.

Not much here for readers looking for an engaging supernatural adventure . (Suspense. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3260-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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