Complex characters and creepy concepts will leave readers chomping for the next volume.

THE DEVOURING GRAY

From the Devouring Gray series , Vol. 1

A parallel-dimension prison for a horrific evil is linked to a small town’s founding families in this riveting debut.

Still grieving her sister’s death, Violet’s life is further uprooted when her mother suddenly moves them back to Four Paths, her hometown. The town goes beyond quirky into odd territory, especially in the way the children of the founders’ families are exalted. Violet learns she’s from one such family, as fellow descendants Justin, Harper, and Justin’s hostile, volatile best friend, Isaac—with lots of bad blood between them—each try to woo her to their side. Justin believes Violet could be key to protecting the town from the Beast imprisoned in the Gray; Harper doesn’t want to see Violet betrayed by Justin like she was. Each of the four families has magical gifts to protect the townspeople from the Beast, now killing at greater frequency. Violet needs to find her family ritual in order to control her disturbing gift and stop the dangerously strange things happening to her; to do so, she must uncover a devastating family history and navigate all the founders’ secrets. The third-person narration hops between characters without a structural pattern, allowing for cinematic cuts between simultaneous action and expertly manipulated reveals. While light on romance, multiple bisexual characters have a variety of storyline outcomes; the primary characters default to white.

Complex characters and creepy concepts will leave readers chomping for the next volume. (Paranormal/horror. 12-adult)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02496-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers.

YOU'VE REACHED SAM

Technology prevails over death, giving a teenage couple a second chance at goodbye.

High school senior Julie is paralyzed with grief over her boyfriend Sam’s death in a car accident. She avoids his funeral and throws away every reminder of him. They had planned to leave their small Pacific Northwest town together, and she now faces an uncertain and empty future. But one night she impulsively dials his cell, and, inexplicably, Sam answers. This is the first of many long conversations they have, neither understanding how or why this is happening but relishing the chance to say goodbye as they could not in life. However, Julie faces a difficult choice: whether or not to alleviate the pain of Sam’s loved ones by allowing them to talk to him, though it could put their own connection at risk. Yet, letting go and moving on might be just what she needs. The emotional tenor of the book is even throughout, making the characters feel remote at times and flattening the impact of momentous events—such as Julie and Sam’s first conversation—that are often buried in minor, day-in-the-life details. The time skips can also be difficult to follow. But the concept is a smart one and is sure to intrigue readers, especially those grappling with separation, loss, and mortality. Sam is cued as Japanese American; Julie defaults to White.

A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76203-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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