A high-tech, twisted Breakfast Club for the social media age.

AUTONOMOUS

A self-driving car plugged into its teenage passengers’ electronic footprints takes them on a road trip based on what it thinks they want.

Reckless William’s disregard for his own safety helps him win a prototype luxury car, the Driverless Autonomous, and an all-expenses-paid road trip for him and three friends the summer before college. His companions are neighbor and friend Christina, best friend Daniel, and Daniel’s girlfriend, Melissa—or, in team-role terms, tech genius Christina (a dark-web denizen and hacker), muscle Daniel (headed to play basketball at Princeton), and fixer Melissa (a gorgeous girl whose passion and ambition are overlooked because they’re directed toward fashion). William is the wild card, and Otto the car is the brains. But each vividly drawn teen’s mature, serious secrets can draw them into conflict with one another—and no secret is safe from Otto’s electronic surveillance. While they make unpleasant discoveries about themselves and one another, Otto—difficult to control from the get-go—learns from them, developing a personality based on their input, reflecting the flaws of the characters and of humanity in general. The road trip is punctuated by drinking games, (consensual, responsible, off-page) sex, laser tag at an abandoned asylum, physical threats, car chases, and more, and along the way they grapple with questions of whom to trust. Aside from biracial (Guatemalan and white) Christina, the characters seem to be white.

A high-tech, twisted Breakfast Club for the social media age. (Science fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4847-7390-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues...

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

He’s in remission from the osteosarcoma that took one of his legs. She’s fighting the brown fluid in her lungs caused by tumors. Both know that their time is limited.

Sparks fly when Hazel Grace Lancaster spies Augustus “Gus” Waters checking her out across the room in a group-therapy session for teens living with cancer. He’s a gorgeous, confident, intelligent amputee who always loses video games because he tries to save everyone. She’s smart, snarky and 16; she goes to community college and jokingly calls Peter Van Houten, the author of her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, her only friend besides her parents. He asks her over, and they swap novels. He agrees to read the Van Houten and she agrees to read his—based on his favorite bloodbath-filled video game. The two become connected at the hip, and what follows is a smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance. From their trip to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive Van Houten to their hilariously flirty repartee, readers will swoon on nearly every page. Green’s signature style shines: His carefully structured dialogue and razor-sharp characters brim with genuine intellect, humor and desire. He takes on Big Questions that might feel heavy-handed in the words of any other author: What do oblivion and living mean? Then he deftly parries them with humor: “My nostalgia is so extreme that I am capable of missing a swing my butt never actually touched.” Dog-earing of pages will no doubt ensue.

Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues to make it through Hazel and Gus’ poignant journey. (Fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-47881-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging

STALKING JACK THE RIPPER

Audrey Rose Wadsworth, 17, would rather perform autopsies in her uncle’s dark laboratory than find a suitable husband, as is the socially acceptable rite of passage for a young, white British lady in the late 1800s.

The story immediately brings Audrey into a fractious pairing with her uncle’s young assistant, Thomas Cresswell. The two engage in predictable rounds of “I’m smarter than you are” banter, while Audrey’s older brother, Nathaniel, taunts her for being a girl out of her place. Horrific murders of prostitutes whose identities point to associations with the Wadsworth estate prompt Audrey to start her own investigation, with Thomas as her sidekick. Audrey’s narration is both ponderous and polemical, as she sees her pursuit of her goals and this investigation as part of a crusade for women. She declares that the slain aren’t merely prostitutes but “daughters and wives and mothers,” but she’s also made it a point to deny any alignment with the profiled victims: “I am not going as a prostitute. I am simply blending in.” Audrey also expresses a narrow view of her desired gender role, asserting that “I was determined to be both pretty and fierce,” as if to say that physical beauty and liking “girly” things are integral to feminism. The graphic descriptions of mutilated women don’t do much to speed the pace.

Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging . (Historical thriller. 15-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-27349-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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