Aliens may be attacking, but teen angst still holds sway in this reluctant reader series.

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THE FIELD TRIP

From the Attack on Earth series

A high school choir field trip comes to a halt when alien invaders generate an electromagnetic pulse, grounding planes, turning off phones, and shutting down power plants.

Kayla has hated fellow soprano Steph since third grade. Now high school juniors, the two are even more strident in their rivalry. Their bickering and constant one-upmanship continue as resources dwindle and a long hike looks inevitable. An alien flyover and a carjacking leave the group stranded and force Kayla and Steph to bury the hatchet before their conflict buries them all. In The Fallout, by Glasko Klein, a mall seems like the perfect place to lie low and stock up on supplies following an alien attack, but 16-year-old Nina never imagined hiding out with the school weirdo, her ex-boyfriend, and a superjock. When their saviors start acting more like prison guards, Sanjay and his friends decide to break out of their school in Lockdown, by Raelyn Drake (Realm of Mystics, 2017, etc.). In Getting Home by Stephanie Perry Moore (Sit on Top, 2015, etc.), Bailey and her younger brother, Blake, are caught on a bus between Atlanta and Montgomery when an EMP attack shuts everything down. While an alien attack is the common thread, these stories are less about extraterrestrial problems and more about issues common to many teenagers. Characters struggle with pride, anger, lost love, rivalries, and first crushes. While the majority of characters are assumed white, names indicate ethnic diversity in Lockdown, and the characters are implied African-American in Getting Home.

Aliens may be attacking, but teen angst still holds sway in this reluctant reader series. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2573-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Darby Creek

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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