A brilliant treasure of a book that holds up a mirror to the best parts of our humanity.

IN THE WILD LIGHT

East Tennessee teens Cash Pruitt and Delaney Doyle met at a support group for kids whose parents struggle with addiction.

Cash has lived with Mamaw and Papaw ever since his mother died. After brilliant Delaney discovers a mold with antibacterial properties in a cave on the Pigeon River, she’s given a full ride to a Connecticut prep school—which she accepts on the condition that Cash be admitted too. While Delaney is eager to go, Cash is reluctant: deeply grounded in the natural beauty of his home, unsure he can keep up academically, and dreading leaving Papaw, whose emphysema is worsening. Traveling from their mostly White, economically distressed town to Middleford Academy, a school filled with global elites, brings measures of disorientation, inspiration, mockery—and true friendship. Cash quickly befriends Alex, a working-class Korean American scholarship student, and they form a tight foursome with Delaney and her wealthy Brazilian roommate, Vi. A poetry class with a teacher who becomes a trusted mentor becomes a lifeline—and an anchor to his roots—as Cash struggles with homesickness, attraction to Vi, and tension with Delaney. In writing suffused with raw emotion, Zentner shows respectful care for his characters; natural dialogue and a strongly developed sense of place demonstrate their evolution. The beauty of the language will invite readers to linger over sentences that speak to deep truths.

A brilliant treasure of a book that holds up a mirror to the best parts of our humanity. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5247-2024-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences.

MIDNIGHT SUN

From the Twilight series , Vol. 5

A long-awaited Twilight (2005) companion novel told from vampire Edward’s point of view.

Edward Cullen, a 104-year-old vampire (and eternal 17-year-old), finds his world turned upside down when new girl Bella Swan’s addictive scent drives a primal hunger, launching the classic story of vampire-meets-girl, vampire-wants-to-eat-girl, vampire-falls-in-love-with-girl. Edward’s broody inner monologue allows readers to follow every beat of his falling in love. The glacial pace and already familiar plot points mean that instead of surprise twists, characterization reigns. Meyer doesn’t shy away from making Edward far less sympathetic than Bella’s view of him (and his mind reading confirms that Bella’s view of him isn’t universal). Bella benefits from being seen without the curtain of self-deprecation from the original book, as Edward analyzes her every action for clues to her personality. The deeper, richer characterization of the leads comes at the expense of the secondary cast, who (with a few exceptions) alternate primarily along gender lines, between dimwitted buffoons and jealous mean girls. Once the vampiric threat from James’ storyline kicks off, vampire maneuvering and strategizing show off the interplay of the Cullens’ powers in a fresh way. After the action of the climax starts in earnest, though, it leans more into summary and monologue to get to the well-known ending. Aside from the Quileutes and the occasional background character, the cast defaults to White.

A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences. (Paranormal romance. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-70704-6

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Sure to please fans of the author and of the vampire-romance genre.

THE BEAUTIFUL

From the Beautiful series , Vol. 1

Forbidden love is tested by suspicion and murder in this latest addition to YA vampire lore.

Celine Rousseau, a French and Asian (mother’s exact origins unknown) seamstress, sails from Europe to America in hopes of leaving her shadowy past behind. En route, she bonds with Pippa, a white English émigrée, and both girls find refuge in an Ursuline convent. Celine’s talent as a couturier leads to a commission from Odette, a beautiful member of the opulent-yet-mysterious Cour des Lions, where students of the occult practice their craft unmolested. Before long, Celine is swept up in a world of mystical forces centering around Sébastien Saint Germain, an enigmatic aristocrat to whom she is irresistibly attracted. When a fellow convent member is found murdered, Celine suspects all her acquaintances, including Sébastien. The novel, wading into the waters of forbidden romance between teenage girl and hunky immortal vampire previously navigated by Buffy Summers and Bella Swan, feels less magical than it should despite the lush Victorian-era New Orleans setting. At times the mounting attraction between Bastien and Celine is told rather than shown, which makes the central relationship feel forced rather than organic and passion filled. Ahdieh (Smoke in the Sun, 2018, etc.) brings New Orleans vibrantly to life, particularly when exploring the complicated racial and gender restrictions of high society through main and supporting characters of mixed-race origin.

Sure to please fans of the author and of the vampire-romance genre. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3817-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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