Final Draft hits every mark: A must-read

READ REVIEW

FINAL DRAFT

Eighteen-year-old high school senior Laila Piedra is determined to write the best sci-fi story ever.

Her kind, gentle, albeit anemic, white creative writing teacher, Mr. Madison, offers her constant positive feedback after class. Her friends African-American Leo Major, Korean-American Hannah Park, and Puerto Rican Felix Martinez meet regularly to watch The Rest, a long-running sci-fi show. At home, her Ecuadorian dad, French-Canadian mom, and annoying 13-year-old sister, Camille, rarely get in the way. Laila sees her senior year going smoothly until a tragic accident places Mr. Madison in the hospital and the enigmatic Pulitzer Prize–winning Ukrainian author Nadiya Nazarenko becomes the substitute. Suddenly, Laila’s writing is not good enough to earn a passing grade. When Nazarenko suggests that Laila live a little, she realizes how much time she spends inhabiting worlds other than her own. As Laila awkwardly attempts to gain new experiences, she learns that the world is not a draft that can be revised again and again. She stumbles, makes mistakes, and crashes a few times along the way to finding out who she is and who will accept her. This is a gorgeous novel with diverse characters of different ethnicities and sexualities that are true to life in their messiness and earnest missteps. Redgate (Noteworthy, 2016, etc.) treats each character with care, gently guiding them through uncomfortable situations and tender, heartfelt moments.

Final Draft hits every mark: A must-read . (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2872-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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