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: Jan. 5, 2021

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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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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