Wickedly clever.

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DEAD RULES

Not your usual paranormal romance.

Romeo and Juliet meets Daniel Waters in folklorist Russell’s wry teen debut. After a deadly freak bowling accident on a double date, high-school junior Jana Webster (of Webster and Haynes, regional champions in Duet Acting, as she’s quick to mention) finds herself in Dead School, right in her hometown of Asheville, N.C. As in real high school, rules and cliques govern Dead School. Jana, a Riser (with a promising placement after graduation), is supposed to avoid Sliders (whose fates are on a downward spiral). Since Sliders still have an attachment to Earth, she asks Slider Mars to help her communicate with her boyfriend and love of her life, Michael Haynes. While Jana plots to kill Michael so they can be together forever, Mars believes Dead School is a chance to learn how to change their destinies. The pacing intensifies as Jana discovers the truth about her death, and the real star-crossed lovers emerge. Sarcastic quips and double entendres drive the story’s humor, but it’s the sensitivity of the supporting characters (like Beatrice, who after inviting her crush to her church picnic and sneaking off to the woods with him so he can feel her up, dies when a stray lawn dart strikes her head) that allows Jana (and readers) to see laughter within tragedy.

Wickedly clever. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)

Pub Date: June 21, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-198670-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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Regardless, readers will likely be so swept up in the romance they can read past any flaws.

TO ALL THE BOYS I'VE LOVED BEFORE

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 1

An ultimately compelling exploration of teenage growth and young love.

With her idolized sister Margot leaving for college, Lara Jean doesn’t feel ready for the coming changes: becoming more responsible for their younger sister, Kitty, helping their widowed father, or seeing Margot break up with Josh, the boy next door—whom Lara Jean secretly liked first. But there’s even greater upheaval to come, when Lara Jean’s five secret letters to the boys she’s loved are mailed to them by accident. Lara Jean runs when sweet, dependable Josh tries to talk to her about her letter. And when Peter Kavinsky gets his letter, it brings him back into Lara Jean’s life, all handsome, charming, layered and complicated. They start a fake relationship to help Lara Jean deal with Josh and Peter to get over his ex. But maybe Lara Jean and Peter will discover there’s something more between them as they learn about themselves and each other. It’s difficult to see this book as a love triangle—Josh is bland as oatmeal, and Peter is utterly charismatic. Meanwhile, readers may find that Lara Jean sometimes seems too naïve and rather young for 16—though in many ways, this makes her feel more realistic than many of the world-weary teens that populate the shelves.

Regardless, readers will likely be so swept up in the romance they can read past any flaws. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2670-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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