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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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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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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