A cliffhanger-ish ending dangles the promise of more of the same.

SO CLOSE TO YOU

From the So Close to You series , Vol. 1

A wan time-travel tale delivers a clichéd romance and a little history lesson.

Lydia's grandfather has been haunted by the disappearance of his father when he was a child in 1944. He spends his days tramping through the abandoned Camp Hero for evidence of the Montauk Project ("the East Coast Area 51"), which he believes is responsible. While examining yet another overgrown bunker with him one day, Lydia finds a door open and makes her way through a series of mostly empty corridors to a room with a beautiful boy and a mysterious chamber. She plunges into the chamber and is taken back to 1944, to the active Camp Hero where her great-grandfather is stationed. Coincidences pile up: Her great-great-grandfather, a doctor, just happens to be there, too, with her great-great-aunt, just her age. She is welcomed into the family with almost no questions asked, from which point she watches for her opportunity to prevent her great-grandfather's disappearance. Oh, and the beautiful boy, Wes, is also there, to prevent her from changing time. The history is conveyed mostly through Lydia's denseness as she encounters such unfamiliar concepts as a girdle and "The Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B." Eyes will roll as Wes and Lydia declare undying love in scenes dripping with syrup; lids will droop as Wes tortuously explains the Montauk Project.

A cliffhanger-ish ending dangles the promise of more of the same. (Science fiction/romance. 12 & up)

Pub Date: July 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-208105-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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