PRINCESS ASHLEY

Here, Chelsea narrates the events in her sophomore and junior years, when she modeled herself on Ashley—lovely, rich, and apparently self-possessed. Starting Crestwood High at that painful time in early adolescence when self-definition is all-important, Chelsea feels so afflicted by her ambitious mother's new career as guidance counselor that she bitterly rejects her, seeing her insights concerning Chelsea as "witchy" and invasive. Though still feeling close to her ineffectual dog-trainer father, she's ripe for a new role model, and so when, astonishingly, the perfect Ashley taps her as friend, she goes along willingly. Cracks in Ashley's veneer provide early glimpses of the emptiness within—her poems are someone else's, she claims that her stepmother is her father's mistress, she casually drops Chelsea from a long-anticipated fashion show for her own convenience—yet Chelsea remains a loyal follower. Meanwhile, her friend Pod does his own growing from sophomoric poseur to more effective doer; their developing affection provides contrast as well as humor, since with Pod Chelsea is assertive from the beginning. But it takes cataclysmic revelations about both parents and a tragedy involving Ashley's boyfriend, whose glamour masks another debilitating conflict, to get Chelsea to see others clearly and begin to define herself. One of our finest writers of YA novels, Peck deftly captures the evolving concerns of 15- and 16-year-olds—their speech, anxieties, and shifting relationships with parents and peers. His witty, concise style and a plot full of surprising turns carry the reader quickly along; yet his characters are born of unusual wisdom and empathy for the teen condition. Another winner.

Pub Date: May 15, 1987

ISBN: 044020206X

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1987

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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