A humorous account of a teen’s reluctant and awkward journey to acceptance of his emerging bisexuality.

WHATEVER.

With a close-knit group of guy friends, a cool girlfriend, and few worries, Mike’s junior year is off to a great start. Until it isn’t.

First, the white suburbanite’s girlfriend, Lisa, informs him that they aren’t actually dating. Then he finds out that, while blackout drunk at a party, he made out with a guy. Now everything shifts into unfamiliar territory. Mike can’t help but freak out as he begins to notice how he is thinking about guys, especially Rook Wallace, his enemy since middle school. On top of this, Lisa has wrangled him into running for student government with her, filling his once contentedly slacker schedule with dreaded extracurricular participation. The third-person narrative moves quickly with plenty of realistic teen banter. Risky underage behavior abounds, including a lot of heavy drinking and pot smoking, and is, for the most part, consequence-free in the way that only a story centered on middle-class white kids can be. Mike’s self-talk as he grapples with his sexual identity is at times cringeworthily self-deprecating. Though there are some rough patches as he comes out to his friends, the most resistance he experiences in coming to terms with his sexuality is from himself.

A humorous account of a teen’s reluctant and awkward journey to acceptance of his emerging bisexuality. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62672-399-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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An accomplished, exciting debut.

ALL THE STARS AND TEETH

From the All the Stars and Teeth series , Vol. 1

A princess embarks on a dangerous path to the throne.

In the island kingdom of Visidia, where each person is allowed just one type of magic, only the members of the royal Montara family have the ability to wield the dangerous soul magic. Princess Amora is next in line to be High Animancer, but she must first prove to her people that she is powerful enough to use her magic to protect them. But something goes terribly wrong during a critical public ceremony, and Amora runs away with dashing pirate Bastian, whose rescue comes with a price: She must help him recover his own magic, stolen away by a dangerous man leading a growing rebellion that could bring down the whole kingdom. Debut author Grace wields her own magic with a skillful balancing act between high-stakes adventure (here there be monsters, mermaids, and high-seas shenanigans), bloody fantasy, and character development in a story with a lovable found family at its core. Amora yearns for adventure just as she welcomes her right to command her kingdom; her ferocious sense of duty and legitimate need to do good shine through. The novel’s further unravelling of dark secrets long kept comes with a recognized need for accountability and making amends which adds a thoughtful extra layer to the rich worldbuilding. Amora has copper-brown skin and dark, curly hair; other characters have a range of skin tones in this diverse world.

An accomplished, exciting debut. (guide to the kingdom) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30778-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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