GHOSTGIRL

The only place social-climbing wallflower Charlotte Usher seems destined to go is Loserville until she chokes herself to death on a gummy bear in physics lab and passes from the world of the living to dead. Even there, though, she’s dubbed a scrub by her fellow dead classmates. Longing to hook up with still-living crush Damen, she contrives a scheme with Scarlet, the über-cool goth-vintage-chic sister of Damen’s brainless, bombshell girlfriend. The pact: Scarlet agrees to let Charlotte possess her body to pursue Damen, and Scarlet gets to hang with the cool dead kids. Each of Hurley’s two lead heroines perfectly mirrors the other: One longs to be seen, one wants to disappear. Hurley attempts to flesh out their world in true Rowling-esque form, with side plots aplenty and a kooky slew of offbeat minor characters with mixed results; check out www.ghostgirl.com to get the full visual effect. Still, she beats out witty teen-speak like a punk-band drummer, keeping the narrative fast-paced and fun yet thought-provokingly heartwarming. Goofy, ghastly, intelligent, electrifying (Novel. YA)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-316-11357-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2008

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Only marginally intriguing.

REDEMPTION PREP

In a remote part of Utah, in a “temple of excellence,” the best of the best are recruited to nurture their talents.

Redemption Preparatory is a cross between the Vatican and a top-secret research facility: The school is rooted in Christian ideology (but very few students are Christian), Mass is compulsory, cameras capture everything, and “maintenance” workers carry Tasers. When talented poet Emma disappears, three students, distrusting of the school administration, launch their own investigation. Brilliant chemist Neesha believes Emma has run away to avoid taking the heat for the duo’s illegal drug enterprise. Her boyfriend, an athlete called Aiden, naturally wants to find her. Evan, a chess prodigy who relies on patterns and has difficulty processing social signals, believes he knows Emma better than anyone. While the school is an insidious character on its own and the big reveal is slightly psychologically disturbing, Evan’s positioning as a tragic hero with an uncertain fate—which is connected to his stalking of Emma (even before her disappearance)—is far more unsettling. The ’90s setting provides the backdrop for tongue-in-cheek technological references but doesn’t do anything for the plot. Student testimonials and voice-to-text transcripts punctuate the three-way third-person narration that alternates among Neesha, Evan, and Aiden. Emma, Aiden, and Evan are assumed to be white; Neesha is Indian. Students are from all over the world, including Asia and the Middle East.

Only marginally intriguing. (Mystery. 15-18)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266203-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Girls will cry and boys will find love, lust, loss and longing in Alaska’s vanilla-and-cigarettes scent.

LOOKING FOR ALASKA

The Alaska of the title is a maddening, fascinating, vivid girl seen through the eyes of Pudge (Miles only to his parents), who meets Alaska at boarding school in Alabama.

Pudge is a skinny (“irony” says his roommate, the Colonel, of the nickname) thoughtful kid who collects and memorizes famous people’s last words. The Colonel, Takumi, Alaska and a Romanian girl named Lara are an utterly real gaggle of young persons, full of false starts, school pranks, moments of genuine exhilaration in learning and rather too many cigarettes and cheap bottles of wine. Their engine and center is Alaska, given to moodiness and crying jags but also full of spirit and energy, owner of a roomful of books she says she’s going to spend her life reading. Her center is a woeful family tragedy, and when Alaska herself is lost, her friends find their own ways out of the labyrinth, in part by pulling a last, hilarious school prank in her name. What sings and soars in this gorgeously told tale is Green’s mastery of language and the sweet, rough edges of Pudge’s voice.

Girls will cry and boys will find love, lust, loss and longing in Alaska’s vanilla-and-cigarettes scent. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-525-47506-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2005

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