The fantasy elements remain as murky as they are inessential to a story that is really more about high schoolers poised to...

FIRE

From the Engelsfors Trilogy series , Vol. 2

The intricate relationship chess that sets the opener of this teens-vs.-demons import apart really takes over in the projected trilogy’s middle volume.

The five young Swedes previously given paranormal powers and designated by enigmatic “guardians” as Chosen Ones (The Circle, 2013) are thoroughly enmeshed in emotional turmoil fostered by the sprawling cast of questionable boyfriends and ex-boyfriends, vicious bullies, troubled parents and hostile townsfolk. This so preoccupies them that both the arrival of an investigator bent on punishing any unauthorized magic working and the imminent prospect of the world’s destruction by otherworld demons seem mere distractions. Still struggling with personality conflicts as well as grief months after the murders of two confederates, the five survivors are slow to notice that a “Positive Engelsfors” movement is turning nearly everyone in the town into zombielike conformists—blind to, and even participating in, a rising tide of sudden deaths and vandalism. Eventually, following an eye-opening round of bespelled mutual body switching, the teenage world savers narrowly avert a mass killing that would have touched off the apocalypse and in the process, form bonds that leave them at least somewhat readier to face the final reckoning to come.

The fantasy elements remain as murky as they are inessential to a story that is really more about high schoolers poised to emerge from tough adolescences than magic. (Fantasy/horror. 13-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4683-0672-9

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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