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DEFY THE DARK

This thick volume should conjure the heebie-jeebies for even the most experienced of supernatural connoisseurs.

Sixteen darkly alluring stories relate horrid and extraordinary events that can occur only in the absence of light.

Each uniquely eerie, goose bump–raising tale confidently journeys into the unknown, and almost every one has a thread of teen romance. The quietly disturbing opening story, Courtney Summers’ “Sleepstalk,” tells of a girl so obsessively in love that she stalks her sleepwalking ex-boyfriend. She feels she can’t exist without him and will make sure he doesn’t exist without her. In Dia Reeves’ “The Dark Side of the Moon,” a town is perforated by fissures through which monsters enter. The well-adjusted citizens know how to battle everything but the night trolley, which goes to a place from which no one has ever returned alive. One young man, however, intent on impressing his girlfriend, takes the ride of his life. Four friends find themselves stuck on a roller coaster in “Almost Normal,” by Carrie Ryan, awaiting the zombie takeover of their town. Before the gory finale, the teens ponder the end of the mundane and the beginning of eternal hungering, craving oblivion. Christine Johnson offers the heartbreaking “Shadowed,” in which a cursed girl must never leave the dark lest her shadow murder her.

This thick volume should conjure the heebie-jeebies for even the most experienced of supernatural connoisseurs. (Supernatural/short stories. 14 & up)

Pub Date: June 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-212354-1

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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