For lovers of dystopian romance, this gripping tale is a tormented look at identity and a dark trip down Lost-Memory Lane.

THE PROGRAM

As a teen-suicide epidemic sweeps the nation, Sloane and her friends struggle with depression from which the only release is death or The Program.

Every day the teens pretend that they’re not “infected” in order to avoid being seized by The Program. This government-sanctioned treatment returns high schoolers to the community after stripping them of their memories and making them vacant versions of their former selves. With raw emotion, 17-year-old Sloane relates the story in three parts. In the first, Sloane and her boyfriend, James, cling to their intense love while their friends commit suicide or are taken away. There’s nowhere to hide as Sloane and James try and fail to keep themselves from The Program. The stomach-churning second part follows Sloane in treatment, where her memories are plucked and her body violated, and her only friend is playing both sides. Finally, Sloane is re-introduced to her school and family. She retains one key memory, which leads her back to fear, pain and love. How this epidemic began and whether The Program is a sinister conspiracy is left unanswered, but despite weak worldbuilding and a bleak plot, Sloane’s quest for survival and individuality is a tribute to the tenacity of the essential self.

For lovers of dystopian romance, this gripping tale is a tormented look at identity and a dark trip down Lost-Memory Lane. (Dystopian romance. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 30, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4580-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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An entertaining story of forbidden love, family drama, and elegant couture.

THE LAST LEGACY

Since the moment Bryn was born, she was destined to take her place among the Roths.

Even after her parents died and she was taken to live with her great-aunt Sariah in Nimsmire, far away from the filth of the big city and the infamous Roth reputation, Bryn was destined to eventually become wrapped up in her family’s less-than-proper line of work—which was the cause of her parents’ deaths. When she returns to the city of Bastian on her 18th birthday, something she has eagerly anticipated after growing up in a small city under Sariah’s watchful eye, she is finally forced to come to terms with her identity and assume her rightful position in her family’s mysterious business. This feat would have been difficult enough on its own, for Bryn isn’t accustomed to her family members’ crude behavior, but she certainly isn’t prepared to meet the handsome, strong, brooding silversmith in her family’s employ; Ezra Finch definitely complicates things. This fast-paced tale with a Victorian feeling is filled with an abundance of scandal, high fashion, intrigue, and, of course, romance. While the large cast of characters is at times difficult to keep straight and the plot-driven prose would have benefited from more worldbuilding detail, the delightfully swoonworthy love story will keep readers engaged and the pages turning eagerly as they hurtle toward the book’s satisfying conclusion. Characters are White by default.

An entertaining story of forbidden love, family drama, and elegant couture. (family tree) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-82372-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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