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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ANNA K AWAY

From the Anna K series , Vol. 2

A tale of love and loss that spans the globe.

Instead of having a carefree summer, biracial (Korean/White) Anna is sent away from the familiarity of New York, her friends, the past school year’s scandal—and the memories of her dead boyfriend, Alexia Vronsky. While struggling with grief, her shattered self-image, and an uncertain future, Anna attempts to reclaim her summer in Seoul, where she knows only her father and grandmother. Beatrice, Alexia’s cousin, juggles her clingy girlfriend and falling for a California surfer even as she represses her grief. Meanwhile, Anna’s brother, Steven, plans for an amazing summer party, although Lolly, his girlfriend, is away at theater camp. Steven’s best friend, Dustin, and Kimmie, Lolly’s younger sister, are equally nervous about their first sexual experience together. This sequel to Anna K (2020) contains fewer mentions of luxury brands, and the characters exhibit an increased awareness of the impacts of wealth and socio-economic status. The novel also touches on issues of addiction, sexism, cultural differences, fame, relationships, love, and mental health; in particular, the portrayals of living with grief and redefining the self after a loved one dies shine. Despite some awkward time skips, the humor, pop-culture references, and characters’ distinct voices strengthen the story. Fans of the first novel will enjoy this follow-up, which is also accessible to readers new to Anna and her world. Some major characters are White; Dustin is Black and Jewish, and there is diversity in the supporting cast.

Entertaining. (cast of characters) (Fiction. 15-18)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-23646-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more