An overly busy girl-power adventure.

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THE UNSTOPPABLE WASP

BUILT ON HOPE

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 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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