While the road may be well-trodden, readers are still in for a breezy, enjoyable ride

ONCE UPON A KISS

Back to the Future meets The Breakfast Club for Generation Z.

It’s 1986, and 16-year-old Zoe Brenner isn’t one of the cool kids, but as long as she’s got her best friend, Jonah, John Hughes movies, and New Wave music, she just might survive Castle Heights High. But when Zoe accidentally chokes on a Fun Dip stick and wakes up 30 years in the future, she’s in for a more difficult ride. Beverly Hills circa 2016 is a whole lot different than it was in the ’80s, and it’s going to take some time for Zoe to adjust to Googling, tweeting, and blogging. But technology is just the tip of the iceberg. In this parallel universe, Zoe is the most popular girl in school, and a slightly more muscular Jonah has a new best friend. Though rapid-fire references to pop culture, antique and modern, can be a distraction, it’s a mostly undemanding read, following Zoe as she tries to use her newfound popularity for good and win back her best friend. There are no surprises here. The plot is predictable, as Palmer sticks to the tried-and-true best friend–turned–love interest formula. But Zoe’s frothy first-person narration should keep the pages turning.

While the road may be well-trodden, readers are still in for a breezy, enjoyable ride . (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-147-50988-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Speak/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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A sweet, undemanding summer read.

SUNKISSED

The summer before her senior year, 17-year-old Avery unexpectedly finds romance on a family vacation.

Avery’s family spends their summers away from Los Angeles, enjoying the outdoors; this year it will be two months at a remote resort in the California woods. Her 15-year-old sister, Lauren, an outgoing video blogger, is distraught by the camp’s lack of internet access while go-with-the-flow Avery is just hoping for no drama, upset after having found out her best friend kissed her ex-boyfriend. An initial miscommunication makes things tense with handsome camp staff member Brooks—until Avery agrees to help him write songs for a band competition in exchange for his helping her step out of her comfort zone. Of course, staff aren’t supposed to fraternize with campers, which leads to much sneaking around, though Avery and her sister attend several staff parties thanks to befriending lifeguard Maricela and drummer Kai. Avery learns to find her voice, both metaphorically—she feels her parents don’t take her seriously—and literally, as she must overcome her stage fright when asked to step in for the vocalist in Brooks’ band when they compete in the festival. Avery’s complicated relationship with her family feels underdeveloped, though the love story with Brooks hits all the right notes. Fans of West will enjoy this watered-down Dirty Dancing tale, with its swoony romance and uncomplicated plot. Most characters are White; Maricela is implied Latinx, and Kai is Polynesian.

A sweet, undemanding summer read. (Romance. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17626-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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