No aquatic frolic but a moody meditation on loss and love.

A SONG TO TAKE THE WORLD APART

A young woman encounters first love and family secrets in this lyrical debut.

Lorelei Felson lives a quiet life—literally, as her German-immigrant parents forbid music in their Venice, California, house and are mysteriously silent about their pasts. Workaholic Petra and bemused husband Henry leave the child-rearing of Lorelei and her older twin brothers, Nik and Jens, to stern grandmother Oma, but Oma’s death derails the dysfunctional family. Blonde, white sophomore Lorelei rebels by falling for rocker senior Chris Paulson, also white, but their relationship remains unofficial and riddled with lies due to Chris’ allegedly co-dependent mom and fickle band mates. Like her olive-skinned friend Zoe Soroush, Lorelei navigates typical teen trials—first boyfriend, first chance at sex, first breakup—but Lorelei also discovers that she is a siren. Grieving and in love, Lorelei accidentally, then intentionally sings to compel and control those around her until she must take responsibility for her recklessness. Romanoff’s writing is both artistically impressionistic and raw with emotion; the pace is slow, plot minimal, and secondary characters inscrutable, but the protagonist is often entrancing. Lorelei’s angst-y self-discovery best reads as a coming-of-age allegory with a superfluous supernatural twist.

No aquatic frolic but a moody meditation on loss and love. (Paranormal romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93879-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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Flips the script on battling over a boy in the best way possible.

KATE IN WAITING

Best friends—she is straight, he is gay—crush on the same guy.

Kate and her best friend, Anderson, do everything together—including falling for Matt, a gorgeous vocal consultant at summer theater camp. Their close friends say it is because they are codependent, but for Kate, Anderson is the person at the center of her life, and anyway, she thinks crushes are more fun (and less painful) when not done solo. Communal summer swooning is sort of their thing, and they expect this one to end the same way the others do. But when Matt shows up as a new student at their school, both Kate and Anderson realize they have to navigate this joint crush in real life. Not knowing whether Matt likes guys or girls or more—but knowing they both really do like him—they set up some ground rules so as not to hurt each other and decide to just roll with it. But of course that is easier said than done when romantic feelings are involved. The novel features strong character development and a diverse cast of primary and supporting characters; Kate is White and Jewish, Anderson is Black, and Matt is White. Real chemistry between the different love interests in the book, authentic dialogue, supportive friendships, and Albertalli’s signature humor make this a must-read.

Flips the script on battling over a boy in the best way possible. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-264383-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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