With expletives and violence that seem more for shock value than to advance the story, and plenty of action but an abrupt...

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THE SMOKE THIEVES

From the Smoke Thieves series , Vol. 1

Five teenagers who have nothing in common—a hunter, a soldier, a servant, a princess, and a thief—soon find themselves at the center of a war thanks to new discoveries about demon smoke, an opiumlike drug.

King Aloysius is still bitter over the war he lost to Calidor and will stop at nothing to exact revenge: This is the catalyst for our five heroes’ journeys, whether they at first realize it or not. With each chapter told from a different character’s perspective, readers get a feel for the various worlds within the story but are still left sensing that something is lacking: Rather than an immersive fantasy world, it is a medieval world with a spattering of underdeveloped fantasy thrown in. Aloysius and his son are comically, mustache-twirlingly evil. The two love stories (one between two boys, and one a classic love triangle between a girl and two boys) feel halfhearted due in part to the relationships not being fully fleshed out. With so many characters, none get the full attention they deserve. Ethnic diversity, including multiracial identities (one major character has blue eyes, blonde dreadlocks, and brown skin), both mirrors reality as well as featuring fantasy races.

With expletives and violence that seem more for shock value than to advance the story, and plenty of action but an abrupt ending, readers will hope for more meat in the next volume. (Fantasy. 15-18)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-29021-7

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality.

I'M NOT DYING WITH YOU TONIGHT

Two teenage girls—Lena and Campbell—come together following a football game night gone wrong.

Campbell, who is white and new to Atlanta, now attends the school where Lena, who is black, is a queen bee. At a game between McPherson High and their rival, a racist slur leads to fights, and shots are fired. The unlikely pair are thrown together as they try to escape the dangers on campus only to find things are even more perilous on the outside; a police blockade forces them to walk through a dangerous neighborhood toward home. En route, a peaceful protest turns into rioting, and the presence of police sets off a clash with protestors with gruesome consequences. The book attempts to tackle racial injustice in America by offering two contrasting viewpoints via narrators of different races. However, it portrays black characters as violent and criminal and the white ones as excusably ignorant and subtly racist, seemingly redeemed by moments when they pause to consider their privileges and biases. Unresolved story arcs, underdeveloped characters, and a jumpy plot that tries to pack too much into too small a space leave the story lacking. This is not a story of friendship but of how trauma can forge a bond—albeit a weak and questionable one—if only for a night.

An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality. (Fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7889-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues...

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THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

He’s in remission from the osteosarcoma that took one of his legs. She’s fighting the brown fluid in her lungs caused by tumors. Both know that their time is limited.

Sparks fly when Hazel Grace Lancaster spies Augustus “Gus” Waters checking her out across the room in a group-therapy session for teens living with cancer. He’s a gorgeous, confident, intelligent amputee who always loses video games because he tries to save everyone. She’s smart, snarky and 16; she goes to community college and jokingly calls Peter Van Houten, the author of her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, her only friend besides her parents. He asks her over, and they swap novels. He agrees to read the Van Houten and she agrees to read his—based on his favorite bloodbath-filled video game. The two become connected at the hip, and what follows is a smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance. From their trip to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive Van Houten to their hilariously flirty repartee, readers will swoon on nearly every page. Green’s signature style shines: His carefully structured dialogue and razor-sharp characters brim with genuine intellect, humor and desire. He takes on Big Questions that might feel heavy-handed in the words of any other author: What do oblivion and living mean? Then he deftly parries them with humor: “My nostalgia is so extreme that I am capable of missing a swing my butt never actually touched.” Dog-earing of pages will no doubt ensue.

Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues to make it through Hazel and Gus’ poignant journey. (Fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-47881-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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