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GIRL FROM NOWHERE

Adeptly written but full of inconsistencies.

A teen fleeing from international terrorists takes refuge in a small town in Montana.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia, daughter of American diplomats, arrives in small-town Waterford, Montana, less than 48 hours after a traumatic incident inside a safe house in Tunis. Though fluent in 14 languages, an expert skier, a concert-level pianist, and a skilled survivalist accustomed to carrying a loaded pistol at all times, Sophia hasn’t been to school in 18 months. However, she quickly makes friends and is intrigued by a senior boy named Aksel, whose marksmanship saves her, on the first day at school, from an attack by a grizzly bear. Aksel lives alone in a lush mountain home, his parents having died in a plane crash two years before; he confesses to remembering Sophia from seeing her inside the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. She doesn’t question this coincidence, preferring to dwell at length on Aksel’s stunning green eyes. But a man she vaguely recognizes seems to be stalking her. Rosenhan’s debut is absolutely crammed with action, international name-dropping and intrigue, and sizzling, though PG, scenes between Sophia and Aksel. It’s missing consistency, clearly defined characters, and a well-developed plot—many things happen, but not all of them make sense. Sophia’s desires are never clear, and she often doesn’t ask obvious questions. Neither Sophia nor Aksel are credible high school teens; they read much older. Main characters are white.

Adeptly written but full of inconsistencies. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0303-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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