Brewer weaves sexuality and identity into the story but does not make them the engine for it; the result is a rich,...

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THE BLOOD BETWEEN US

Adrien can’t get away from his wicked sister fast enough after his adoptive parents die in a horrific accident; it takes something huge to get him back in the same city as his sister, his past, the ghosts he’s been trying to outrun, and danger he doesn’t see coming.

Brewer writes from Adrien’s point of view, allowing readers to feel deeply some very painful parts of his life, the arrogance that masks his self-doubt, his humor and intentions, and how bewildering it is to be labeled by people who have no real idea who he is. Adrien is well-off, white, good-looking, and in a lot of pain. Readers understand why others see him as they do, and they know that none of them are exactly right. The central premise is engaging—did Adrien’s sister lead their parents to their deaths, and is he next?—and though the book is an easy read, it’s not a simplistic one. Brewer isn’t afraid to show how smart Adrien is, using cinematic, almost Gothic phrasing, humor, suspense, compassion, and sensitivity to the nebulous natures of sexuality and identity. The characters are richly wrought but broad enough to not be pinned into one era, which means this book will seem fresh to new readers for decades to come. Brewer confides to readers in a prologue that he has transitioned from Heather to Zac and has come out as gay. Although overarching issues of identity are felt in this book, Adrien is not a trans character.

Brewer weaves sexuality and identity into the story but does not make them the engine for it; the result is a rich, authentic read. (Mystery. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-230791-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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