Despite a few predictable sci-fi elements, this is a suspenseful and timely read. Readers will look forward to the sequel.



From the Girls With Sharp Sticks series , Vol. 1

“Manners, modesty, and gardening” are the most important aspects of any obedient young woman’s education.

The 12 perfect, uniformly beautiful, very proper, and emotionally restrained young ladies in attendance at Innovations Academy must please the investors, creepy professors, and head of school as well as the increasingly odious Guardian Bose. Nightly “vitamins” and utterly horrific impulse control therapy eliminate any pesky behavior. Mena is close with the other girls, but when she meets a boy named Jackson on a rare outing, his concern and questions open cracks in her memory, which is hazy regarding life before Innovations. When one of the girls disappears, Mena begins to think for herself and question the school authorities’ true motives. A few clues pave the way to the big reveals, and the girls cleverly utilize their outdated education to manipulate their minders. How these girls are treated is vile, but the views and practices underlying them weren’t left behind in the 1950s. Young (The Complication, 2018, etc.) holds a mirror up to modern society’s push for perfection and the still all-too-common repressive treatment of women and girls. Readers will be revved up for the inevitable uprising. Characters follow a white default; Jackson and one student have dark skin. Two of the girls are romantically involved.

Despite a few predictable sci-fi elements, this is a suspenseful and timely read. Readers will look forward to the sequel. (Dystopian thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2613-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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