A gripping, original take on vampires.

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LAST BREATH

From the Morganville Vampires series , Vol. 11

Absorbing suspense dominates this chick-lit vampire story.

This 11th installment of the Morganville Vampires series doesn’t require familiarity with the previous books for readers to figure out what’s going on, and to find excellent suspense. Claire, the story’s main protagonist, lives in the Glass House with her heartthrob Shane, her best friend, goth girl Eve, and vampire Michael (whom human Eve wants to marry). Humans and vampires share Morganville, with humans providing pints of blood for their more powerful neighbors. The town reacts against the proposed marriage, but all becomes moot when a far more powerful entity invades: the draug, sea-based enemies of the vampires. They decimate the vampire population, also attacking humans who get in their way. Claire finds herself caught in a limbo-like state as she tries to fight them, adding another layer of suspense to the already gripping tale. Caine puts her strong imagination to good use in devising semi-impossible scenarios for her characters to conquer, and she writes the major fight scene well. A few quirky characters and some humor flavor the story, such as Claire’s highly eccentric scientist employer, vampire Myrnin, who apparently secretly loves her, as does the emotionally aware house the group lives in. Chick-lit staples come in the form of clothes, a bit of gossip and girl rivalry.

A gripping, original take on vampires. (Paranormal adventure. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-451-23487-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: New American Library

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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An intimate portrait of female friendship laced with literal and metaphorical magic.

WHEN WE WERE MAGIC

Getting through high school requires more than a little bit of magic.

On prom night, when Alexis accidentally kills Josh Harper, she panics and summons her five best friends—Paulie, Roya, Iris, Marcelina, and Maryam—for help. Alexis knows she can rely on them, not only because of their unshakeable friendship, but because of what they have in common: the ability to do magic. Attempting to make things right, the girls cast a spell but are left with a disconnected collection of Josh’s body parts, including a cold, glassy version of his heart. They divide them up and agree to dispose of what is left of Josh, piece by piece. Alexis insists on witnessing each body-part-releasing ceremony, in the process exploring her bonds with her friends—and, in one case, feelings that go far beyond friendship. But as their relationships strengthen, the spell takes its toll: Every time they lose a body part, the girls lose something too, forcing them to rethink how they define themselves and each other. This work of speculative fiction is a profoundly thoughtful exploration of female friendship, love, growth, and identity. The fully realized characters are diverse in ethnicity, sexuality, and gender identity. While the final two-thirds of the book are beautifully paced, balancing introspection and character development with plot, the first third at times feels weighed down by explanation and backstory.

An intimate portrait of female friendship laced with literal and metaphorical magic. (Speculative fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3287-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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