NOW & WHEN

A hackneyed premise with some solid emotional notes.

Wealer’s debut hovers uncertainly between rom-com, complete with a premise reminiscent of Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler’s The Future of Us (2011), and a thoughtful portrayal of female friendship in a town where many are struggling after the close of the largest business. In predominantly white and straight Alton, Skyler’s fortunate life—two best friends, a perfect boyfriend, and parents who are happily, albeit less profitably, reemployed after the mill’s closing—has two major problems: best friend Harper’s self-harm and hospitalization and glitchy phone updates from 11 years in the future indicating she’s going to end up with insufferable (but attractive) Truman. The uneasy marriage of the two stories through the plot device of a possible demolition of a beloved community space never fully succeeds, leaving readers with the sense that two books are vying for center stage. Wealer sympathetically evokes her setting, especially the financial constraints of a one-business Midwestern town, and provides a likable cast but ends up with a reductive tale in which doing nothing would have accomplished the same end and in which the protagonist grows from being pushed by the handsome male lead while the supporting female friendship tale coasts to a happy ending on the coattails of the romance.

Disappointing. (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984896-24-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales.

COLD HEARTED

A TALE OF THE WICKED STEPMOTHER

From the Villains series

How did Cinderella’s stepmother come to be so wicked?

She may have been self-focused, but at least she wasn’t always so cruel. Lady Tremaine, mother of two spoiled daughters, is a lonely widow hoping for a bit of happiness. Unfortunately, when Sir Richard appears at her friend’s house party, she’s swept off her feet and fails to heed the frantic warnings of her dedicated, elderly lady’s maid. Had she ever bothered to read the book of fairy tales her late husband purchased years before, she might have recognized the perils of assuming the role of stepmother. Entranced by Sir Richard, she agrees to a hasty marriage and a move to the Many Kingdoms, where he reverts to his true, domineering nature and she and her daughters become virtual prisoners in his home. Although the Odd Sisters—clever, manipulative witches—try to intervene on her behalf, it seems her fate is already written; she becomes as cruel and demented as the story described. However, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and her sister, Nanny, have plans to rescue Lady Tremaine’s daughters as they develop much-needed, rehabilitative insights into the family’s dynamics. Mostly told from the Lady’s shallow, self-centered perspective, this is an entertaining retelling of the Disney “Cinderella” story from a different viewpoint, with references to the rest of the series woven throughout. Characters follow a White default.

For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-02528-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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