A fleeting diversion.

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INFLUENCE

Welcome to the glamorous—and cutthroat—world of social media influencers.

Sixteen-year-old newbie Delilah Rollins became a minor celebrity after her rescue of a puppy from a burning shed was caught on video and went viral. When she’s invited by actress Jasmine Walters-Diaz to an influencer party at a fancy Los Angeles hotel, she’s thrilled. Jasmine introduces Delilah to influencer and aspiring actress Fiona Jacobs, and Fiona’s boyfriend warns Delilah away from the blonde and supposedly toxic Scarlet Leigh. Delilah also has a meet-cute with a green-eyed guy who turns out to be none other than Scarlet’s beau, YouTube star Jack Dono. Cue the melodrama. When someone is murdered, Delilah vows to root out the killer in their midst. Via alternating narratives, the authors divvy up a handful of serious issues among the main cast, including bullying, sexuality, and mental illness, and Shepard’s co-author, real-life teen influencer Buckingham, brings authenticity to a world defined by likes and clicks. But the final product is akin to flipping through a tabloid: It’s glossy and salacious but ultimately shallow, and the murder mystery, complete with an out-of-left-field denouement, lacks tension. Still, things end on a hopeful note, and the overarching message of being true to oneself is evergreen. The cast includes some queer characters and seems to be mostly white; Jasmine is cued as Latinx, and Fiona is described as having caramel skin.

A fleeting diversion. (Mystery. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12153-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

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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