SACRED

Scarlett’s peaceful life on Catalina Island bifurcated last spring into the time Before Ronny Died and her miserable present.

With the death of her brother, all the life seemed to go out of her family, too: Her mother has retreated into a pill-enhanced haze of grief, while her father gardens ineffectually. Scarlett copes by riding her beloved mare and slowly starving herself. When she meets a beautiful young man with startling green eyes on the trail, he seems to have been looking for her: Why? Green-eyed Will Cohen then turns up in school, which provokes obnoxious possessiveness in her boyfriend. But Scarlett can’t deny her attraction, and it seems to be mutual….Arnold stuffs way too much into this novel, piling dating violence onto cutting onto anorexia onto depression. And that’s just the first half. The second half swerves out of realistic problem-novel territory into mysticism, as Scarlett begins to study the Kabbalah under the tutelage of Will’s rabbi/theology professor father—it turns out Will is more than just gorgeous, he is a modern-day incarnation of extreme Jewish holiness. Although Arnold achieves the occasional fresh turn of phrase—Scarlett shreds a note from her contrite boyfriend into “a nice little pile of apology confetti”—too often she settles for cliché, with yearning skin, fluttering hearts and searing glances aplenty bundled into sentences that seem to go on forever.

Schlock. (Paranormal romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-74211-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice.

THE FIELD GUIDE TO THE NORTH AMERICAN TEENAGER

A teenage, not-so-lonely loner endures the wilds of high school in Austin, Texas.

Norris Kaplan, the protagonist of Philippe’s debut novel, is a hypersweaty, uber-snarky black, Haitian, French-Canadian pushing to survive life in his new school. His professor mom’s new tenure-track job transplants Norris mid–school year, and his biting wit and sarcasm are exposed through his cataloging of his new world in a field guide–style burn book. He’s greeted in his new life by an assortment of acquaintances, Liam, who is white and struggling with depression; Maddie, a self-sacrificing white cheerleader with a heart of gold; and Aarti, his Indian-American love interest who offers connection. Norris’ ego, fueled by his insecurities, often gets in the way of meaningful character development. The scenes showcasing his emotional growth are too brief and, despite foreshadowing, the climax falls flat because he still gets incredible personal access to people he’s hurt. A scene where Norris is confronted by his mother for getting drunk and belligerent with a white cop is diluted by his refusal or inability to grasp the severity of the situation and the resultant minor consequences. The humor is spot-on, as is the representation of the black diaspora; the opportunity for broader conversations about other topics is there, however, the uneven buildup of detailed, meaningful exchanges and the glibness of Norris’ voice detract.

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-282411-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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