Entertaining but underdeveloped.



From the Watchers series

An atmosphere of tension rescues this imaginative but otherwise thin addition to the vampire-fiction craze.

In this second installment of the Watchers series, 17 year-old Drew has won a fight to the death to become the girl most likely to succeed on the Isle of Night, off the coast of Scotland. There, Drew competes in a school that trains students to aid a clan of ancient vampires. Super-smart Drew has drawn the attention of a dangerous vampire, Master Alcántara, who chooses her for a secret mission. Before earning that chance, however, Drew must fend off jealous older students who are both intent on killing her and allowed to do so if they can. Characterizations tend toward the shallow, but Wolff manages to make her protagonists interesting nonetheless. She maintained tension by highlighting the constant danger that threatens Drew and by throwing in frequent action scenes. Worldbuilding is adequate, although more description would aid new readers. The plot, however, grows ever more preposterous. Drew’s secret mission flies by far too quickly, as its main purpose appears to be setting up the next sequel. Nevertheless, what otherwise would be only a B-level effort comes across as a B+ due to the successful suspense and the intriguing vampire world.

Entertaining but underdeveloped. (Paranormal suspense. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-451-23572-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: New American Library

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.


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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Pleasantly formulaic light fantasy with an appealingly strong female lead.


From the Queen's Secret series , Vol. 1

A young woman, raised in obscurity and trained in magic, rescues a handsome boy and sets off to save her kingdom in this duology opener.

In a kingdom where the only magical knowledge to escape centuries of tyrannical rule belongs to women, Shadow wants to go on adventures. She’s connected to both the palace and the Guild, a group of mostly female magic-wielding assassins and adventurers. Unfortunately, her mother has just recalled her to court, where she’ll be expected to wear fancy gowns and jewels and maybe be married off. Rebellious Shadow runs off to rescue Caledon Holt, the Queen’s Assassin, who is bound to the Queen until he finds the hidden magic scrolls. Chapters alternate between Cal’s and Shadow’s perspectives as the pair reluctantly partner up to infiltrate a neighboring kingdom and root out the conspiracy trying to destroy Renovia. From perpetual frustration to all-in love, this is more about the romance than the world, although the world—with strong women, marriage equality, and characters of varying skin tones—certainly has its strengths, lightly realized though it is. This is a classic plucky heroine fantasy in the vein of Tamora Pierce and Kristin Cashore, with some modern tweaks.

Pleasantly formulaic light fantasy with an appealingly strong female lead. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-51591-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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