Second swing and a hard miss.


From the Garvie Smith series , Vol. 2

Garvie Smith, the underachieving teen detective, returns in a new mystery with more murder, dangerous intrigue, and highly inconvenient exams.

Fans of Running Girl (2016) will find the mixed-race amateur sleuth and company much the same in this direct sequel, in which Pyotor Gimpel, a Polish boy with Asperger’s who also attends Garvie’s school, is found shot to death in a storage facility. True to form, Garvie abandons his already-small inclination to complete his exams, jeopardizing his future prospects, in order to solve this far more interesting whodunit puzzle, even as the recently demoted Sikh D.I. Singh tries in vain to keep Garvie out of it. Where Mason has added some depth to several aspects of Garvie’s world, including a closer look at his relationship with his Barbadian mother (his white father has abandoned the family), much of this sequel has disappointingly managed to outpace the problems of the first installment. The inclusion of a neurodivergent character as a murder victim, whose homicide is only solvable due to the particular behavioral manifestations of his autism-spectrum disorder, smacks of lip-service representation and lazy craft reliant on stereotype shorthand. Confusing elements such as the misrepresentation of Polish ethno-nationality as a racial identity also muddy the waters, and the juxtaposed-but-unexplored relationships of several different (Polish, Pakistani, Bajan) immigrant-family dynamics feel like a missed opportunity in a narrative where diverse cultural tensions are so largely at play.

Second swing and a hard miss. (Mystery. 13-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-03649-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: David Fickling/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.


Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

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  • Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Winner


From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 2

Lara Jean's romantic entanglements complicate themselves further.

In the wake of the events detailed in To All the Boys I Loved Before (2014), Lara Jean confesses her love for handsome golden boy Peter. This frees the pair to start a romantic relationship with a clean slate, but over the course of the novel it becomes clear that embarking on a relationship that turns an aggressive blind eye to baggage is never a good idea. When a viral video of a steamy love session between Peter and Lara Jean rears its ugly head and a boy from the past enters Lara Jean's life once more, Lara Jean's life gets complicated. Every character from Han’s adored previous novel is back, with new dimensions given to nearly every one of them. Subplots abound, among them two involving Lara Jean's father and Peter's ex-gal Genevieve, but benefitting most from this second look is John Ambrose McClaren, a boy briefly referenced in the former book who is thrust into the spotlight here as Peter's rival for Lara Jean's heart. With all these characters bouncing around, Han occasionally struggles to keep a steady hand on the novel's primary thrust: Lara Jean’s emotional development. Han gets the job done in the end, but this overeventful sequel pales to the original where structure is concerned. The author's greatest success remains her character work, and the book does indeed give everyone a solid arc, narrative be damned.

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2673-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2015

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