Dialogue bobbles aside, commendably on topic.

THE WORLD WITHOUT US

Jeremy is trying to talk Melody into jumping off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Florida at the opening of this look at both what motivates someone to suicide and how people cope with the aftermath of a failed attempt.

Mel’s first-person narration plunges readers into the action before flashing back to explore the excruciating pain that leads Jeremy to contemplate suicide. Cutting back and forth between past and present, Mel struggles with her guilt at not being able to talk him out of it and the agonizing possibility that she led him into thinking they could go together. They connected a few months earlier at a party, her nickname Death Wish (earned after a fumbled attempt to take too many Tylenols) making Jeremy feel he’s found a fellow traveler. Mel may have thought they were joking about suicide, but Jeremy, suffering from survivor guilt after the death of his younger brother while he was in charge, is definitely not. In a related subplot, Mel’s mother’s activism against the death penalty and Mel’s familiarity with the issues surrounding death row widen the book’s thematic focus without falling into proselytizing. While readers learn early on that Jeremy has survived, they will find the ways each teen views and handles death to be compellingly presented. The dialogue sometimes sounds off, clearly written in the service of Stevenson’s themes rather than character development.

Dialogue bobbles aside, commendably on topic. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0680-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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Fans of the previous entry will enjoy following the story of a young woman who changes the fates of two countries.

THE BETRAYED

Lady Hollis flees her country after her new husband is killed.

In The Betrothed (2020), Hollis fell in love with Silas, the son of an Isolten family who sought asylum from their cruel king, and chose him over her intended match, King Jameson. Since Silas, his father, his brothers, and her parents have been killed, she decides to travel to Isolte with her mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Formerly primarily interested in dresses, dancing, and romance, Hollis now proves her mettle. Etan, Silas’ cousin, arrives to escort the family, and he clashes with Hollis from the moment they meet. The society they live in, modeled after medieval Europe, with castles, tournaments, kings, queens, and nobles, generally follows traditional gender roles, but Hollis sometimes breaks through the accepted boundaries. When Etan wants to lead a revolt against his own King Quinten, who is just one of the novel’s major betrayers, Hollis uses her wits to get the evidence needed to convince others that he is guilty of crimes against his own people. She bravely returns to Coroa to confront King Jameson when she finds out that he, too, has carried out unspeakable crimes. Hollis and Etan’s verbal wars are fun, predictably leading to love, but the political intrigue sometimes drags the novel down. Characters default to White.

Fans of the previous entry will enjoy following the story of a young woman who changes the fates of two countries. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-229166-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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Will both entertain and encourage reflection.

CINDERELLA IS DEAD

In Mersailles, “Cinderella” is more than just a fairy tale: It’s the basis for a harsh monarch’s throttlehold on his kingdom.

Sophia is turning 16, the age at which young women must attend King Manford’s annual ball, at which they are scrutinized by and married off to male attendees. Any young woman who has not been claimed after her third ball is destined to spend the rest of her days engaged in hard labor. But being chosen can be its own curse in a society where domestic violence is common. Sophia is a beautiful Black girl in love with dark-haired Erin, one of her best friends. While racial diversity is a natural part of this world, the same acceptance does not exist for those who defy rigid gender norms: Anything other than heterosexual desire is strictly forbidden, and while Sophia wishes to escape as a couple, Erin is too fearful. After fleeing the ball, Sophia stumbles across Cinderella’s mausoleum, hidden in the woods. There she meets rebellious Constance, an attractive young red-haired woman with a very personal motivation for sabotaging the monarchy. As the two grew closer—and sparks fly—they discover secrets that could end Manford’s cruel reign. This promising debut deals with themes around rebellion and empowerment as well as the toll that rejecting the status quo can take on relationships. The atmospheric setting is a particular strength, and the twists and turns will keep readers in suspense.

Will both entertain and encourage reflection. (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0387-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2021

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