Think of Hitchcock’s The Birds, only more intense and with many more animals.

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SAVAGE

Three teens are trapped when a hurricane hits their New England island with more than just wind and water.

Animal lover Sidney works for the local vet and adores Snowy, her deaf, white German shepherd. When the storm hits, she is with Cody, whom she’s recently broken up with, and Rich, who secretly has a crush on her. The teens shelter in Rich’s vacation home but find themselves under attack from thousands of insects swarming up from the basement. The scene shifts to different venues, where different characters are attacked by similar swarms of animals, including formerly loving pets. Psychodramas—such as Sidney’s romantic travails and various neighbors’ own idiosyncratic problems—play out against the chaos. Sniegoski rarely lets up on the galloping suspense, putting his characters (almost all presumably white) in a few too many impossible-to-escape situations but keeping pulses pounding. Each time a character frantically tries to unlock a door while pursued by savage animals, be sure that character will drop his or her keys. Gruesome scenes abound, with characters eaten alive by swarms of insects, rats, squirrels, and domestic pets, including one in which birds kill a character, up close. The cause of the chaos is nicely sci-fi, thankfully without involving a mad scientist, and clearly, it’s going to get worse in the sequel.

Think of Hitchcock’s The Birds, only more intense and with many more animals. (Thriller. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 31, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4373-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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 emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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