THE UNSTOPPABLE WASP

BUILT ON HOPE

An overly busy girl-power adventure.

The Wasp fights a hive mind in this Marvel tie-in novel.

Sixteen-year-old Nadia Van Dyne has a superpowered suit, assassin training, and an infamous father but also wants to be a Cool American Teen. Following her escape from the Soviet Red Room and a life-changing bipolar diagnosis, Nadia strives to control her mental health and form her own family. She’s got her friends and lab partners—Priya Aggarwal, Taina Miranda, Shay Smith, and Ying Liu—and an awesome stepmom, former Wasp Janet Van Dyne, but yearns to know more about her real parents: scientist mother Maria Trovaya and Ant-Man father Hank Pym. Yet in her quest to forge connections and advance science, Nadia follows the standard superhero comic-book arc: befriending bad people, alienating allies, and almost unleashing an apocalypse. Incorporating Nadia’s canonical origins, powers, and problems, Maggs focuses on mental health issues and gender inequality. Nadia is a white Hungarian Russian émigrée, and her teammates are diverse in ethnicity, physical ability, and sexual orientation. By opting for prose over graphics, this too-long tale sacrifices some of the best elements of comic books, with once-brief fight scenes taking place over pages, not panels; lengthy dialogue substituting for succinct speech and thought bubbles; and repetitive character and place descriptions replacing visual shorthand. Non-English words are italicized.

An overly busy girl-power adventure. (Action. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-05465-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Marvel Press

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

Close Quickview