A satisfying dose of first love’s physical and emotional thrall.

ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER

Engaging teen characters with page-turning love lives offer ample vicarious pleasures.

Petite, red-haired Isla (that’s “eye-la”) has had a hopeless crush on introverted artist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. Their chance meeting before senior year catalyzes a wish-come-true relationship that threatens Isla’s unusual friendship with best friend Kurt and makes her question her identity and future. Perkins’ characters are quirky and three-dimensional, and their sometimes-startling actions make them seem even more real: Isla and Kurt routinely share a bed; Josh depicts losing his virginity in his graphic novel; Isla and Josh enjoy a steamy weekend trip to Barcelona. They’re discovered, and Josh is expelled, but love persists despite distance and restricted phone privileges. In fact, their greatest threat comes from within—Perkins accurately depicts the kind of thinking that helps lovers invent their own problems: Isla’s insecurities (why should Josh love her when she doesn’t have a driving passion or vision of her future?) threaten the relationship (“I have to destroy what’s left of my heart before he can do it for me”). The titular “happily-ever-after” is as predictable as it is sweet, featuring fan-pleasing cameos of characters from Perkins’ two companion books.

A satisfying dose of first love’s physical and emotional thrall. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-525-42563-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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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With appeal to cynics and romantics alike, this profound exploration of life and love tempers harsh realities with the...

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THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR

Natasha and Daniel meet, get existential, and fall in love during 12 intense hours in New York City.

Natasha believes in science and facts, things she can quantify. Fact: undocumented immigrants in the U.S., her family is being deported to Jamaica in a matter of hours. Daniel’s a poet who believes in love, something that can’t be explained. Fact: his parents, Korean immigrants, expect him to attend an Ivy League school and become an M.D. When Natasha and Daniel meet, Natasha’s understandably distracted—and doesn’t want to be distracted by Daniel. Daniel feels what in Japanese is called koi no yokan, “the feeling when you meet someone that you’re going to fall in love with them.” The narrative alternates between the pair, their first-person accounts punctuated by musings that include compelling character histories. Daniel—sure they’re meant to be—is determined to get Natasha to fall in love with him (using a scientific list). Meanwhile, Natasha desperately attempts to forestall her family’s deportation and, despite herself, begins to fall for sweet, disarmingly earnest Daniel. This could be a sappy, saccharine story of love conquering all, but Yoon’s lush prose chronicles an authentic romance that’s also a meditation on family, immigration, and fate.

With appeal to cynics and romantics alike, this profound exploration of life and love tempers harsh realities with the beauty of hope in a way that is both deeply moving and satisfying. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-49668-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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