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

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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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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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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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