This sequel lacks the excitement of its predecessor, but a shocking cliffhanger ending may salvage it for readers.



From the Effigies series , Vol. 2

Maia, Chae Rin, Lake, and Belle continue their face-off against Saul in Book 2 of the Effigies series, following Fate of Flames (2016).

After a failed attempt to capture Saul, the public is losing confidence in the Effigies, and the sect is scrambling to restore the illusion of order. Meanwhile, Maia, Chae Rin, Lake, and Belle have more urgent matters on their minds as Saul remains ever elusive, and they can add engineered Effigies to their growing list of enemies. As if that weren’t enough, it turns out the sect definitely can’t be trusted. It’s just another day in the life as Maia also plays tug of war with Natalya, the previous fire Effigy, for control of her body. Oh, and Rhys, her crush, may have murdered Natalya—a revelation that brings far-reaching consequences. As the questions about their origins pile up and what that means in this new fight against Saul, more than ever, the girls need to work as a team. This has all the makings of a great sequel, but it stumbles in its execution. Meandering plotlines, Maia’s prolonged internal battles, and clumsy character development make for a slow-paced, plodding read. Maia’s mother was Caribbean, Lake is British-Nigerian, Chae Rin is Korean, and Belle is a white European, but these diverse cultural characterizations don’t manifest themselves in any meaningful way.

This sequel lacks the excitement of its predecessor, but a shocking cliffhanger ending may salvage it for readers. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6680-6

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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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