Didactic overtones and blatant real-world parallels spoil this reluctant reader series.

READ REVIEW

FAMILY TIES

From the AI High series

Julie balks at working with android Leila as part of her high school’s integration program.

When interacting with Leila reveals that androids might not be as bad as Julie’s parents preached, Julie learns to use her human privilege to stand up for android rights. All books in the AI High series take place at Julie and Leila’s high school, where tensions between humans and androids run high. In Team Player by Jeffrey Pratt (The Prank, 2019), the star quarterback finds himself replaced by the first android addition to the team. Star-Crossed, by Loren Bailey (Becoming Prince Charming, 2018, etc.), is a Romeo and Juliet story about human Alyssa and android Reid. Claire Ainslie’s (The One, 2019) Detained profiles an android who vandalizes the school in retaliation for bullying from human peers. While the latter three titles balance storytelling with pointed lessons about prejudice, Family Ties reads like an oversimplified introduction to racial injustice. Humans represent a white community while negative stereotypes about androids echo real-world racial hostility. Though a couple of the other books feature ethnic diversity among humans and androids, in Family Ties, only android surnames indicate diverse backgrounds (Farid, Goldman, Kim). When Julie intervenes in an anti-android protest, victory is easily won. Ultimately, the topics of prejudice and bigotry deserve to be addressed with more nuance and less attempt at veiling the subject matter.

Didactic overtones and blatant real-world parallels spoil this reluctant reader series. (Speculative fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-5691-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Darby Creek

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A cute, feel-good coming-of-age story.

YOU HAVE A MATCH

A DNA test reveals that Abby has a sister she never knew about—and they head off to summer camp together to uncover family secrets.

When 16-year-old Abby’s best friend and secret crush, Leo, asks her to do a mail-in DNA test with him, Abby mostly agrees to give him a little push, as he clearly wants to find out more about his birth family. While the results don’t help Leo, they bring a shocking result for Abby: She has a full-blooded sister, 18-year-old Instagram wellness star Savvy, who lives in another Seattle suburb. After meeting and realizing their respective parents used to be friends, the two girls decide to meet again at summer camp. Unfortunately, camp gets off to a rough start; Savvy is a stickler for rules, Abby didn’t read the rules in the first place, and Leo is a camp chef, which only intensifies Abby’s feelings for him. With a summer full of new friends, hijinks, delicious food, and digging up secrets, Abby has to learn to lean in and own up to the complicated parts of life. This is a heartwarming novel of friendship and family, with a little romance. The story and characters have depth and emotion, touching on topics of broken friendships, losing a loved one, deception, social media, and pursuing what you love. Abby, Savvy, and Leo’s adoptive parents are White; Leo is Filipino.

A cute, feel-good coming-of-age story. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-23730-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

SALT TO THE SEA

January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens’ lives converge in hopes of escape.

Returning to the successful formula of her highly lauded debut, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys combines research (described in extensive backmatter) with well-crafted fiction to bring to life another little-known story: the sinking (from Soviet torpedoes) of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff. Told in four alternating voices—Lithuanian nurse Joana, Polish Emilia, Prussian forger Florian, and German soldier Alfred—with often contemporary cadences, this stints on neither history nor fiction. The three sympathetic refugees and their motley companions (especially an orphaned boy and an elderly shoemaker) make it clear that while the Gustloff was a German ship full of German civilians and soldiers during World War II, its sinking was still a tragedy. Only Alfred, stationed on the Gustloff, lacks sympathy; almost a caricature, he is self-delusional, unlikable, a Hitler worshiper. As a vehicle for exposition, however, and a reminder of Germany’s role in the war, he serves an invaluable purpose that almost makes up for the mustache-twirling quality of his petty villainy. The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn’t change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning.

Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful. (author’s note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-16030-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more