A fresh and charmingly narrated look at teens and gender, but the worldbuilding is distractingly bizarre.

CHANGERS

DREW

From the Changers series , Vol. 1

On the morning of the first day of high school, a boy named Ethan wakes up as a girl named Drew.

Turns out Drew is a Changer, one of “an ancient race of humans” who wake up as a different person on the first day of each year of high school (how ancient Changers transformed before the existence of high schools is one of many questions left oddly unaddressed). Similarly, readers learn that Changers will “help make the world a better place,” that Changers see non-Changers’ (aka Statics’) futures when they kiss, and that all Changers wear an emblem branded on their hips—but they are never told why these things are true nor what’s wrong with the world and how Changers will help. Drew’s narrative voice is engaging, often sarcastic and sometimes poignant. Her outsider observations about how it feels to be a girl and how girls are treated are genuine, keenly observed and sometimes funny (“Also, girls aren’t allowed to fart. Ever”). Two love interests develop for Drew, a Changer boy and a Static girl, and their genders are, refreshingly, a nonissue, though Drew’s interest in a Changer violates another seemingly arbitrary Changer rule against Changer-Changer liaisons.

A fresh and charmingly narrated look at teens and gender, but the worldbuilding is distractingly bizarre. (Urban fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61775-211-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Black Sheep/Akashic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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