A lyrical, fast-paced romance that could have benefited from a simplified plot.

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FIRESTARTER

From the Timekeeper series , Vol. 3

Teenage clock mechanic Danny Hart learns a deadly secret, forcing him to choose between saving the man he loves and saving the world.

In early 1877, Danny is trapped on an airship controlled by rebels. Led by Zavier, a cruel and reticent man grappling with a tragic past, the rebels are determined to free time from the control of humans. At first, Danny resists: If time is restored, Danny’s forbidden paramour, clock spirit Colton Bell, will disappear. But the more Danny learns about the history of the towers and their nefarious creation, the less certain he is of his position—until a rival group, the Builders, makes him choose between a future for himself and a future for the people he loves. The prose is beautifully crafted, and the cast is refreshingly diverse: White protagonists Danny and Colton are queer, Daphne is biracial (white British and Indian), there is ethnic diversity in the supporting cast, and at least one secondary character is transgender. Unfortunately, the story is overplotted, leaving little space to explain previous events or the world’s rules, or to explore the complex and layered characters, and making it a difficult entry point for readers new to the series. Furthermore, since the majority of the story occurs in Zavier’s airship, hovering above unknown countries, the book lacks the rich settings of previous volumes.

A lyrical, fast-paced romance that could have benefited from a simplified plot. (Steampunk. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5107-0620-0

Page Count: 488

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

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 unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality.

I'M NOT DYING WITH YOU TONIGHT

Two teenage girls—Lena and Campbell—come together following a football game night gone wrong.

Campbell, who is white and new to Atlanta, now attends the school where Lena, who is black, is a queen bee. At a game between McPherson High and their rival, a racist slur leads to fights, and shots are fired. The unlikely pair are thrown together as they try to escape the dangers on campus only to find things are even more perilous on the outside; a police blockade forces them to walk through a dangerous neighborhood toward home. En route, a peaceful protest turns into rioting, and the presence of police sets off a clash with protestors with gruesome consequences. The book attempts to tackle racial injustice in America by offering two contrasting viewpoints via narrators of different races. However, it portrays black characters as violent and criminal and the white ones as excusably ignorant and subtly racist, seemingly redeemed by moments when they pause to consider their privileges and biases. Unresolved story arcs, underdeveloped characters, and a jumpy plot that tries to pack too much into too small a space leave the story lacking. This is not a story of friendship but of how trauma can forge a bond—albeit a weak and questionable one—if only for a night.

An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality. (Fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7889-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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