As a retelling of Baroness Orczy’s classic, an enjoyable romantic adventure. As an early entry in what will presumably be a...

The Scarlet Pimpernel relocated to a dystopian United States.

Seventeen-year-old Marguerite Singer is a newly privileged resident of Washington, D.C., in 2069. Her rage-filled, anti-elite vids went megaviral last year, so she was brought into the presidential campaign of populist candidate Wynn Sallese. Now this poor, fatherless, white girl from Houston lives in the nation’s capital, one of the few wealthy havens in a shooting-ravaged, poverty-filled U.S. Marguerite’s classmates, wealthy technocrats, despise her for her role in Sallese’s anti-technocrat campaign. Perhaps, however, their fear isn’t entirely the ridiculous paranoia of the wealthy. As Marguerite studies the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror in school, disturbing parallels spark across Washington. Rich classmates at Clinton Comprehensive Education Academy disappear even as rumors surface of civil liberties violations, torture, and extrajudicial killings. Only one classmate is fearless in the face of tyranny: Percy Blake, the fashion-obsessed, white, femme nephew of the French ambassador, has a secret life as a not-entirely-human rebel. Recognizable characterizations (the self-funding, populist, anti–foreign trade businessman-made-president; the humorless, unlikable, pantsuit-wearing competent woman who cleans up his mess) beg comparisons with current affairs but serve no clear purpose in the narrative.

As a retelling of Baroness Orczy’s classic, an enjoyable romantic adventure. As an early entry in what will presumably be a long string of dark futures inspired by the 2016 presidential campaign, lacking in depth and clarity . (Science fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4778-2327-9

Page Count: 342

Publisher: Skyscape

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017


Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice.

A teenage, not-so-lonely loner endures the wilds of high school in Austin, Texas.

Norris Kaplan, the protagonist of Philippe’s debut novel, is a hypersweaty, uber-snarky black, Haitian, French-Canadian pushing to survive life in his new school. His professor mom’s new tenure-track job transplants Norris mid–school year, and his biting wit and sarcasm are exposed through his cataloging of his new world in a field guide–style burn book. He’s greeted in his new life by an assortment of acquaintances, Liam, who is white and struggling with depression; Maddie, a self-sacrificing white cheerleader with a heart of gold; and Aarti, his Indian-American love interest who offers connection. Norris’ ego, fueled by his insecurities, often gets in the way of meaningful character development. The scenes showcasing his emotional growth are too brief and, despite foreshadowing, the climax falls flat because he still gets incredible personal access to people he’s hurt. A scene where Norris is confronted by his mother for getting drunk and belligerent with a white cop is diluted by his refusal or inability to grasp the severity of the situation and the resultant minor consequences. The humor is spot-on, as is the representation of the black diaspora; the opportunity for broader conversations about other topics is there, however, the uneven buildup of detailed, meaningful exchanges and the glibness of Norris’ voice detract.

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-282411-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018


Despite the well-meaning warmth, a wearying plod.

Can a 17-year-old with her first girlfriend prevent real-life folks from discovering her online fandoms?

Cass is proudly queer, happily fat, and extremely secretive about being a fan who role-plays on Discord. Back in middle school, she had what she calls a gaming addiction, playing “The Sims” so much her parents had to take the game away. Now, turning to her role-play friends to cope with her fighting parents, she worries that people will judge her for her fannishness and online life. To be fair, her grades are suffering. And sure, maybe she’s missed a college application deadline. Also, her mom has suddenly left Minneapolis and moved to Maine to be with a man she met online. But on the other hand, Cass is finally dating her amazingly cute longtime crush, Taylor. Pansexual Taylor is a gamer, a little bit punk, White like Cass, and so, so great—but she still can’t help comparing her to Rowan, Cass’ online best friend and role-playing ship partner. But Rowan doesn’t want to be a dirty little secret and doesn’t see why Cass can’t be honest about this part of her life. The inevitable train wreck of her lies looms on the horizon for months in an overlong morality play building to the climax that includes tidy resolutions to all the character arcs that are quite heartwarming but, in the case of Cass’ estranged mother, narratively unearned.

Despite the well-meaning warmth, a wearying plod. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-06-324332-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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