The setting is well-captured, but it’s slow going in this sci-fi adventure.

REBEL SEOUL

In a militaristic future Korea, a boy and girl meet.

It is 2199, and Korea, China, and Japan no longer exist as separate countries but as members of the Neo Council (conveyed to readers in infodumps). Five decades of war have yielded many innovations, such as the God Machines (riffing on the tradition of Japanese mecha movies and Pacific Rim). Preparing to take his military placement exam before graduation from an elite academy, Jaewon is isolated: his father is dead, his mother abandoned him, and his former best friend has turned his back on Jaewon to gain power in one of the Old Seoul gangs. Jaewon’s military posting is to the Tower, the kilometer-tall building in Neo Seoul that serves as headquarters, where he is assigned to supervise Tera, a girl whose strength has been enhanced with drugs in order to pilot a new kind of God Machine. With war still raging and rebel nationalists seeking to make Korea an independent nation again, will two young people be able to find love in this plot-heavy story? While Jaewon is an effective character, much of the supporting cast is relatively flat and the dialogue occasionally stilted, which jars against the mostly colloquial flow.

The setting is well-captured, but it’s slow going in this sci-fi adventure. (glossary) (Science fiction. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62014-299-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Tu Books

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Forgettable. (Fiction. 14-16)

HIT

A dual-narrator novel explores the concept of forgiveness.

Budding poet Sarah is torn between two colleges: Mills, which has offered her a full scholarship, and the University of Washington, whose only appeal is Mr. Haddings. A grad student and poet-in-residence at her school, the charismatic Haddings has Sarah considering a change of plans, to the dismay of Sarah’s controlling mother. Haddings knows he needs to keep the relationship professional, but he’s having a hard time with that. Then, in a moment of distraction, Haddings hits Sarah with his car. Over the next three days, Sarah will cope with the pain, the accident and her worries about her future, while her family—oblivious father, brittle mother and immature brother—and her best friend try to help her. Haddings copes with his crushing guilt, usually making choices that make everything worse. Straining credulity, both Sarah and Haddings wonder if there might be a chance for them still, when the more important question is whether they can ever forgive. Plot events are sequenced poorly and depend far too much on coincidence for their effect; the dual narrative does not provide substantial additional insight, making it feel contrived as well. Stilted dialogue makes characters feel flat, particularly Sarah’s brother.

Forgettable. (Fiction. 14-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-310-7295-0-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blink

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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An undemanding, wish-fulfillment romance.

PAPER HEARTS

From the Heartbreakers Chronicles series , Vol. 2

Another fluffy romance between a girl and a boy-band member, following The Heartbreakers (2015).

Four years ago, after her rebellious older sister, Rose, ran away, Felicity came up with a plan for her future, one designed to make her single mom happy: going to Harvard and becoming a lawyer—just like her absentee dad. It also means working, studying hard, and volunteering as much as she can, leaving little time for enjoying her summer with her best friends, Asha and Boomer. Then, volunteering at a charity ball, she meets the very cute, very reserved Alec, a member of the Heartbreakers. Sparks fly, but right before their first date, Felicity discovers a life-altering secret her mother has been keeping: Rose has been writing Felicity letters since she left. This sends Felicity on a quest to find Rose, accompanied by Alec, Asha, and Boomer. Along the way, she’ll have to come to grips with questions about lies, the truth, and whether her plans for the future will make her happy—can her happiness include Alec? The romance between Felicity and Alec is standard, from the meet-cute to the inevitable misunderstanding. There’s not really anything that elevates the characters or plot beyond the conventional, yet Novak handles it all with a light, deft touch. Save mixed-race Asha, whose mother is Indian and whose father is white, the cast of principals is an all-white one.

An undemanding, wish-fulfillment romance. (Romance. 14-16)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5336-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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