Neatly wraps up the romance, too neatly wraps up the plot.

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OF DREAMS AND RUST

From the Metal and Wishes series , Vol. 2

In the sequel to Of Metal and Wishes (2014), Wen faces an impossible choice—betray her country or let her beloved be slaughtered?

One year has passed since Wen and Melik parted following the destruction of the Gochan One slaughterhouse. Wen and her father now practice medicine at a weapons factory, while Bo, the former Ghost, has built a new lair beneath it. When Bo confirms Wen’s suspicions that the government is sending war machines to crush the Noor rebellion, she is horrified. Melik has joined the rebels, and innocent civilians will suffer if there’s any attack. So Wen runs away to warn the Noor, but nothing goes as she hopes. That includes her eventual reunion with Melik, who seems deeply changed by his experiences as a soldier. Most of the action takes place far from the grim factories that provided the memorably Gothic backdrop of the first novel, but the brutality of industrialized warfare provides more than enough darkness for the story. Also, in removing Wen from that setting, Fine gives her more agency as a protagonist than she had in the previous book. However, given the deep-seated racial tensions between the Itanyai and the Noor, the ending feels overly tidy, and that unfortunately lessens the emotional impact of the climax.

Neatly wraps up the romance, too neatly wraps up the plot. (Steampunk. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-8361-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues...

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

He’s in remission from the osteosarcoma that took one of his legs. She’s fighting the brown fluid in her lungs caused by tumors. Both know that their time is limited.

Sparks fly when Hazel Grace Lancaster spies Augustus “Gus” Waters checking her out across the room in a group-therapy session for teens living with cancer. He’s a gorgeous, confident, intelligent amputee who always loses video games because he tries to save everyone. She’s smart, snarky and 16; she goes to community college and jokingly calls Peter Van Houten, the author of her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, her only friend besides her parents. He asks her over, and they swap novels. He agrees to read the Van Houten and she agrees to read his—based on his favorite bloodbath-filled video game. The two become connected at the hip, and what follows is a smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance. From their trip to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive Van Houten to their hilariously flirty repartee, readers will swoon on nearly every page. Green’s signature style shines: His carefully structured dialogue and razor-sharp characters brim with genuine intellect, humor and desire. He takes on Big Questions that might feel heavy-handed in the words of any other author: What do oblivion and living mean? Then he deftly parries them with humor: “My nostalgia is so extreme that I am capable of missing a swing my butt never actually touched.” Dog-earing of pages will no doubt ensue.

Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues to make it through Hazel and Gus’ poignant journey. (Fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-47881-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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