Poignant, piquant, and not to be missed.

ONLY MOSTLY DEVASTATED

Summer lovin’ gets a Southern twist in this addicting coming-of-age gay romance.

Ollie’s year is not turning out the way he planned. First, his summer crush, Will, ghosts him and stops answering his texts. Then his aunt’s cancer advances to such a critical stage that his parents decide to relocate the family from San Jose to Collinswood, North Carolina, to take care of her. Suddenly Ollie finds himself starting senior year at a new school without friends, without his beloved band, but with Will, a varsity basketball captain who not only isn’t out, but initially refuses to be seen with him. Ollie just wants a fresh start, but Will makes that impossible, doing everything from sitting at his table at lunch to transferring into his music class. Watching the central lovers struggle to grow toward one another is just one of the many pleasures offered by Gonzales’ (The Law of Inertia, 2018) second novel. The diverse supporting cast—particularly Ollie’s new trio of female friends—is so richly characterized that readers will swear they bump into these girls in the halls every day. Scenes between Ollie and Will are tender and tense, complicating both boys’ emotional journeys authentically. Sweet and tart in equal measure, this novel reminds us that legalizing gay marriage didn’t necessarily make coming out in America any easier. Ollie is white; Will is Venezuelan American.

Poignant, piquant, and not to be missed. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-31589-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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A slo-mo environmental disaster story.

THE NATURE OF WITCHES

Weather witches confront climate change in this fantasy.

Clara Densmore is her generation’s sole Everwitch and is unwilling to embrace her powers. Unlike the male and female autumn, winter, spring, and summer witches, whose powers peak during their respective seasons, Clara thrives year-round. At the Eastern School of Solar Magic in Pennsylvania, 17-year-old Clara shuns friendships and only does short-term flings, as her love can be lethal and has already killed her parents and best friend. Losing her powers seems like the selfless solution, but nonmagical shaders have pushed the planet too far with their environmental destruction. Seasonal witches are starting to die amid accelerated natural disasters—and only Clara can save the world. A budding romance with magical mentor/visiting botany student 18-year-old Sang Park from California helps Clara bloom. Redheaded, blue-eyed Clara is cued as White, and Sang is Korean American—but race, class, and other identity-related concerns are rarely a factor in this world. Debut author Griffin unfortunately fails to breathe new life into chosen one fantasy tropes—the obligatory villain, the unavoidable romance, the overly dramatic sacrifice—but excels at lush and lovely descriptions of nature and the weather and delivers a stern, if heavy-handed, message about environmental consequences of modern living.

A slo-mo environmental disaster story. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-942-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun...

DOROTHY MUST DIE

When a cyclone deposits a 21st-century Kansas teen in Oz, she and readers discover there’ve been some changes made.

Dirt-poor “Salvation Amy” Gumm lives in a trailer park, effectively parenting her alcoholic mom (her dad ran off years ago), who seems to care more about her pet rat, Star, than her daughter. That doesn’t mean Amy is eager to be in Oz, particularly this Oz. Tyrannized by a megalomaniacal Dorothy and mined of its magic, it’s a dystopian distortion of the paradise Baum and MGM depicted. In short order, Amy breaks the wholly capricious laws and is thrown into a cell in the Emerald City with only Star for company. There, she’s visited first by the mysterious but sympathetic Pete and then by the witch Mombi, who breaks her out and takes her to the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked (among whom is the very hot Nox). Amy may well be the salvation of Oz—only someone from the Other Place can take Dorothy down. Paige has clearly had the time of her life with this reboot, taking a dystopian-romance template and laying it over Oz. Readers of Baum’s books will take special delight in seeing new twists on the old characters, and they will greet the surprise climactic turnabout with the smugness of insiders.

In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun than many of its ilk. (Dystopian fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-228067-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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