JOKER

Hit head-on with the double-whammy death of his best friend and divorce of his parents, the once-popular, star-student, football-playing Matt eschews everything that was once important to him and reinvents himself as a dilettante and ne’er do well named Joker. In this bizarre offshoot of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Matt’s story unfolds in a schizophrenic blitzkrieg of inner musings and dreams mixed with real time drama: He’s “haunted” by his drunken, depressed, cuckolded father. He denounces his mom’s recent marriage to his father’s best friend Claude. He rebuffs his adoring girlfriend Leah, and runs away from home to live with two burnouts named Roscoe and Guildo. It’s clear that Ranulfo relishes devising these allusions to the classic work, and he portrays them with much gusto and aplomb. Unfortunately, his style—no doubt also intended to recall Shakespeare’s poetic language—becomes so dissonant at times that it veers into near-absurdist territory that ultimately dissects the narrative into something so rambling, nonsensical and forced that teen readers won’t be able to grasp onto much of anything except for one majorly pissed-off main character. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-054158-X

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2006

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Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations.

CARAVAL

From the Caraval series , Vol. 1

Magic, mystery, and love intertwine and invite in this newest take on the “enchanted circus” trope.

Sisters raised by their abusive father, a governor of a colonial backwater in a world vaguely reminiscent of the late 18th century, Scarlett and Donatella each long for something more. Scarlett, olive-skinned, dark of hair and attitude, longs for Caraval, the fabled, magical circus helmed by the possibly evil Master Legend Santos, while blonde, sunny Tella finds comfort in drink and the embraces of various men. A slightly awkward start, with inconsistencies of attitude and setting, rapidly smooths out when they, along with handsome “golden-brown” sailor Julian, flee to Caraval on the eve of Scarlett’s arranged marriage. Tella disappears, and Scarlett must navigate a nighttime world of magic to find her. Caraval delights the senses: beautiful and scary, described in luscious prose, this is a show readers will wish they could enter. Dresses can be purchased for secrets or days of life; clocks can become doors; bridges move: this is an inventive and original circus, laced with an edge of horror. A double love story, one sensual romance and the other sisterly loyalty, anchors the plot, but the real star here is Caraval and its secrets.

Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-09525-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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A lush and hypnotic modern fairy tale.

WHITE FOX

Ten years ago, enigmatic film star Mireille Foix disappeared from Viloxin, her Mediterranean island home, leaving her pharma tycoon husband and two young daughters bereft.

Eighteen-year-old Manon and 17-year-old Thaïs have lived with their aunt in New York City ever since, and their father’s death the previous summer still stings. Tai is puckish and effervescent, with “beautiful gemstones of stories that she’s sharpened to points” and musical laughter that hides deep insecurity. Noni, on the other hand, is a bookish and unabashedly melancholy young woman. When they get an invitation to return to Viloxin, the “Eden” of their childhood, as guests of honor at a retrospective of their mother’s work, they can’t pass it up. Soon after their arrival, Tai discovers White Fox, a legendary unfinished script penned by her mother. The screenplay, which is nestled in between Tai’s and Manon’s narratives as well as that of Boy, a darkly mysterious third narrator, may hold the key to Mireille’s fate. Desperate for the truth, Tai and Noni are enticed into an eerie and darkly seductive puzzle box of enigmatic clues, revelations, and danger. Faring, an imaginative, tactile, and immensely quotable wordsmith, explores the complexities of sisterhood and grief with a deft hand, and her unusual island setting, with its futuristic touches, draws readers in with a sensuous warmth that belies the sharp teeth beneath its surface. Most main characters seem to be White.

A lush and hypnotic modern fairy tale. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30452-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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