Anyone who read the first book was dying for this one months ago; they'll hardly be able to wait for the concluding volume.

INSURGENT

From the Divergent series , Vol. 2

In this addictive sequel to the acclaimed Divergent (2011), a bleak post-apocalyptic Chicago ruled by "factions" exemplifying different personality traits collapses into all-out civil war.

With both the Dauntless and Abnegation factions shattered by the Erudite attack, Tris and her companions seek refuge with Amity and Candor, and even among the factionless. But the Erudite search for "Divergents" continues relentlessly. They have a secret to protect—one they fear could prove more catastrophic than open warfare; one they will slaughter to keep hidden... Rather than ease readers back into this convoluted narrative, the book plunges the characters into immediate danger without clues to their current relationships, let alone their elaborate back stories. The focus is firmly on the narrator Tris, who, devastated by guilt and grief, reveals new depth and vitality. While taking actions less Dauntless than recklessly suicidal, she retains her convenient knack for overhearing crucial conversations and infallibly sizing up others. Her romance with Tobias is achingly tender and passionate, and her friends and enemies alike display a realistic spectrum of mixed motivations and conflicted choices. The unrelenting suspense piles pursuit upon betrayal upon torture upon pitched battles; the violence is graphic, grisly and shockingly indiscriminate. The climactic reveal, hinting at the secret origins of their society, is neither surprising nor particularly plausible, but the frenzied response makes for another spectacular cliffhanger.

Anyone who read the first book was dying for this one months ago; they'll hardly be able to wait for the concluding volume. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-202404-6

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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