Titillated teens will pass this guilty pleasure on to their friends, but they may advise skimming all but a few memorable...

FORBIDDEN

Perhaps inspired by V.C. Andrews' infamous Flowers in the Attic, British author Suzuma spins a tawdry tale of an illicit brother-and-sister relationship.

Lochan and Maya, the oldest of five siblings, narrate in alternating chapters. Their mother, an alcoholic, neglects the children, instead spending her time and money on clothing, drinking and dates with her boss. Caring for their younger siblings is chaotic and draining, a fact impressed upon readers both by heavy-handed exposition and by repetitive food disputes, bickering and belligerent outbursts from angry, defiant and reckless middle child Kit, by far the best-developed character. Over 100 pages pass before Lochan and Maya discover their feelings for each other. Though the author spares no cliché in evoking their tragically star-crossed love (Lochan even laments aloud, "How can something so wrong feel so right?"), she expertly manipulates tension, creating both pathos ("I can think of no other kind of love that is so totally rejected") and urgency ("Being with you every day but not being able to do anything...[i]t's like this cancer growing inside my body"), then delivering sizzling, multi-page frenzies of kissing, touching and more in the pair's rare moments of privacy.

Titillated teens will pass this guilty pleasure on to their friends, but they may advise skimming all but a few memorable scenes. (Fiction. 14-16)

Pub Date: June 28, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4424-1995-7

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking.

I AM NOT STARFIRE

Sixteen-year-old Mandy considers herself the anti-Starfire: Unlike her scantily clad superhero mother, she doesn’t have superpowers, can’t fly, and doesn’t even own a bathing suit.

Mandy dyes her hair and dresses in all black to further call out how different they are. Mandy’s best friend, Lincoln, whose parents were born in Vietnam, insightfully summarizes this rift as being down to an intergenerational divide that occurs whether parents and children come from different countries or different planets. Mandy tries to figure out what kind of future she wants for herself as she struggles with teenage insecurities and bullying, her relationship with her mom, and her budding friendship (or is it something more?) with her new class project partner, Claire. Yoshitani’s vibrant and colorful stylized illustrations beautifully meld the various iterations of Starfire and the Titans with the live-action versions of those characters. Together with Tamaki’s punchy writing, this coming-of-age story of identity, family, friendship, and saving the world is skillfully brought to life in a quick but nuanced read. These layers are most strongly displayed as the story draws parallels between cultural differences between the generations as evidenced in how the characters address bullying, body positivity, fatphobia, fetishization and sexualization, and feminism. This title addresses many important concepts briefly, but well, with great pacing, bold art, and concise and snappy dialogue. The cast is broadly diverse in both primary and secondary characters.

Equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking. (Graphic fantasy. 14-16)

Pub Date: July 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-126-4

Page Count: 184

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

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