Muddled but ambitious, with much to please fans of character-driven fantasy; here’s hoping the next two volumes proceed more...

THE CIRCLE

From the Engelsfors Trilogy series , Vol. 1

Coming into witchy powers and learning to use them responsibly is complicated by intense teen Sturm und Drang in this doorstopper import.

Heralded by bodiless demons, major evil is poised to break through to this world in the small Swedish town of Engelsfors. Seven high schoolers have been Chosen to fight this evil—which they discover after most are compelled by a never-explained force to meet in an abandoned amusement park—and later develop powers such as the ability to become invisible or to control minds. Their various paths to final, uneasy alliance are embedded in a thoroughly developed, exceptionally complex web of family issues, emotional and sexual entanglements, rivalries, hatreds, inner battles, risky personal choices and conflicting impulses that enrich the story but also make the suspenseful climactic battle with a dangerous adversary seem long in coming. Furthermore, along with killing off some of the Chosen (after they become point-of-view characters too, a knavish trick to pull on readers), the authors lazily trot in a succession of adult witches to explain matters to the survivors. They also dispel rather than intensify the atmosphere of creeping horror by turning much of the potion- and magic-making into clumsy attempts at comic relief.

Muddled but ambitious, with much to please fans of character-driven fantasy; here’s hoping the next two volumes proceed more smoothly. (Fantasy/horror. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4683-0658-3

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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With appeal to cynics and romantics alike, this profound exploration of life and love tempers harsh realities with the...

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THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR

Natasha and Daniel meet, get existential, and fall in love during 12 intense hours in New York City.

Natasha believes in science and facts, things she can quantify. Fact: undocumented immigrants in the U.S., her family is being deported to Jamaica in a matter of hours. Daniel’s a poet who believes in love, something that can’t be explained. Fact: his parents, Korean immigrants, expect him to attend an Ivy League school and become an M.D. When Natasha and Daniel meet, Natasha’s understandably distracted—and doesn’t want to be distracted by Daniel. Daniel feels what in Japanese is called koi no yokan, “the feeling when you meet someone that you’re going to fall in love with them.” The narrative alternates between the pair, their first-person accounts punctuated by musings that include compelling character histories. Daniel—sure they’re meant to be—is determined to get Natasha to fall in love with him (using a scientific list). Meanwhile, Natasha desperately attempts to forestall her family’s deportation and, despite herself, begins to fall for sweet, disarmingly earnest Daniel. This could be a sappy, saccharine story of love conquering all, but Yoon’s lush prose chronicles an authentic romance that’s also a meditation on family, immigration, and fate.

With appeal to cynics and romantics alike, this profound exploration of life and love tempers harsh realities with the beauty of hope in a way that is both deeply moving and satisfying. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-49668-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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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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