Teen Book Reviews

THE MAGE OF TRELIAN by Michelle Knudsen
CHILDREN'S AND TEEN
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"A solid, satisfying genre performance; it may not invent any new tricks, but it executes each component in a grand fashion. (Fantasy. 11-16)"
An exemplary middle-grade fantasy trilogy concludes with a blast. Lots of blasts. Read full book review >
PEAS AND CARROTS by Tanita S.  Davis
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"A worthy read for teens looking to expand their worldviews. (Fiction. 12-16)"
Unwillingly brought together, two girls rely on snap judgements to guide their encounters with each other, and as a result, tempers flare. Read full book review >

WHERE FUTURES END by Parker Peevyhouse
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"Strange and compelling, this won't be for every reader; the ones who love it will feel transported to another place. (Science fiction. 13 & up)"
Five novellas weave together a possible future of a decaying world where everyone wants to find their way to the Other Place. Read full book review >
BLEEDING EARTH by Kaitlin Ward
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"Grisly and sickening (but in the best way possible), the novel more than delivers on its promise of the macabre for lovers of horror, and curious readers will close the book with countless questions about religion, science, and human nature. (Horror. 13 & up)"
"Bones Found to Be of Human Origin, Blood Beginning to Fester." In the spirit of M.T. Anderson's Thirsty (1997), Ward's apocalyptic novel will have readers checking the ground beneath their feet after each turn of the page. Read full book review >
PLAYING FOR THE DEVIL'S FIRE by Phillippe Diederich
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"Childhood at its most hopeful and heartbreaking; readers seeking lighthearted, sanitized fare should turn away. (glossary) (Fiction. 12-15)"
In photojournalist Diederich's harrowing debut novel, 13-year-old Liberio "Boli" Flores endures the effects of narcoviolence sweeping Mexico. Read full book review >

THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US by Emily Skrutskie
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Feb. 8, 2016

"Personal and cultural complexities distinguish this fresh and fascinating look at a lawless future. (Science fiction. 14 & up)"
The world's geopolitical balance rests on a genetically modified sea monster and his 17 1/2-year-old trainer. Can she resist the adrenaline rush of a pirate's life to keep the world aright? Read full book review >
BURNING MIDNIGHT by Will McIntosh
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"This fast-paced urban quest wears its agenda on its sleeve, but it's conveyed with verve and an endearing sense of justice. (Science fiction. 12-14)"
A 17-year-old boy and his friends just want enough to survive on in a world where the rich and powerful greedily take everything. Read full book review >
SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN by Jeff Garvin
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"Overall, a welcome mirror for gender-fluid teens and a helpful introduction for others. (Fiction. 12-18)"
Riley Cavanaugh, whose father is a prominent politician in a conservative Southern California county, navigates being gender fluid and experiencing panic attacks. Read full book review >
THE V-WORD by Amber J. Keyser
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"Most valuable here is the explicit, intimate, and informative nature of each writer's words. (Collective memoir. 14-18)"
Seventeen women write about losing their virginity in this work of nonfiction. Read full book review >
REVENGE AND THE WILD by Michelle Modesto
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"This strong debut will delight fans of the genre, especially its Western subdivision, and despite a few passages that make the Donner Party look like vegans, the suspenseful plot should keep even squeamish readers engaged. (Steampunk. 14-18)"
For years, Westie's hunted the cannibal family that killed hers and took her arm; now they've arrived in Rogue City to invest in the machine her adoptive father, Nigel, is building to protect the area's humans from magical creatures, but he's reluctant to believe her. Read full book review >
SALT TO THE SEA by Ruta Sepetys
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful. (author's note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16)"
January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens' lives converge in hopes of escape. Read full book review >
THE FORBIDDEN ORCHID by Sharon Biggs Waller
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"Well-researched and filled with adventure, romance, and lots of tension—this work of historical fiction has all the elements of an intriguing read. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)"
In this coming-of age tale set in 1861, Waller deftly straddles England and China and weaves in historical highlights of plant hunting, the opium trade, and environmental activism. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Michael Eric Dyson
February 2, 2016

In Michael Eric Dyson’s rich and nuanced book new book, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, Dyson writes with passion and understanding about Barack Obama’s “sad and disappointing” performance regarding race and black concerns in his two terms in office. While race has defined his tenure, Obama has been “reluctant to take charge” and speak out candidly about the nation’s racial woes, determined to remain “not a black leader but a leader who is black.” Dyson cogently examines Obama’s speeches and statements on race, from his first presidential campaign through recent events—e.g., the Ferguson riots and the eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston—noting that the president is careful not to raise the ire of whites and often chastises blacks for their moral failings. At his best, he spoke with “special urgency for black Americans” during the Ferguson crisis and was “at his blackest,” breaking free of constraints, in his “Amazing Grace” Charleston eulogy. Dyson writes here as a realistic, sometimes-angry supporter of the president. View video >