Delightful in the moment if ultimately unmemorable.

HERE, THERE, EVERYWHERE

Boy meets girl leads to a summer of first love in Durango and Terrones’ debut as co-authors.

Moving from bustling Chicago to quiet Buffalo Falls, Illinois, doesn’t exactly thrill 16-year-old Zeus. Summer turns out no better when his mother enlists him as a delivery boy for her struggling cafe. Now, the “proud Mexiwegian” (half Mexican, half Norwegian—Zeus is short for Jésus) teen is stuck pedaling through the sticky heat with his World War II–obsessed kid brother in tow. One fateful delivery sends him to the Hilltop Nursing Home, where he spots Rose, a Filipina piano prodigy whose mother is a nurse there. The pair soon hit it off, but inevitably, a complication arises: Rose may leave Buffalo Falls for music school in New York at the end of the summer. Durango and Terrones set up Zeus and Rose’s relationship in broad strokes, relying heavily on that familiar summer-romance trope—and Zeus’ often funny narration—to add some initial urgency. Alarmed by the limit on their time together, Zeus plans to make Rose’s summer an unforgettable one, with trips to a polka festival, a psychic, and the Chicago Art Institute. Meanwhile, he volunteers at the nursing home, getting chummy with some of its residents, starts a band, and receives questionable dating advice from a new friend. A late revelation attempts to raise both the stakes and some half-baked family drama, but the story nonetheless continues its dutiful march to an uplifting finale.

Delightful in the moment if ultimately unmemorable. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: Dec. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-231403-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

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P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 2

Lara Jean's romantic entanglements complicate themselves further.

In the wake of the events detailed in To All the Boys I Loved Before (2014), Lara Jean confesses her love for handsome golden boy Peter. This frees the pair to start a romantic relationship with a clean slate, but over the course of the novel it becomes clear that embarking on a relationship that turns an aggressive blind eye to baggage is never a good idea. When a viral video of a steamy love session between Peter and Lara Jean rears its ugly head and a boy from the past enters Lara Jean's life once more, Lara Jean's life gets complicated. Every character from Han’s adored previous novel is back, with new dimensions given to nearly every one of them. Subplots abound, among them two involving Lara Jean's father and Peter's ex-gal Genevieve, but benefitting most from this second look is John Ambrose McClaren, a boy briefly referenced in the former book who is thrust into the spotlight here as Peter's rival for Lara Jean's heart. With all these characters bouncing around, Han occasionally struggles to keep a steady hand on the novel's primary thrust: Lara Jean’s emotional development. Han gets the job done in the end, but this overeventful sequel pales to the original where structure is concerned. The author's greatest success remains her character work, and the book does indeed give everyone a solid arc, narrative be damned.

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2673-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2015

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Bound to be popular.

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES

From the Ember in the Ashes series , Vol. 1

A suddenly trendy trope—conflict and romance between members of conquering and enslaved races—enlivened by fantasy elements loosely drawn from Arabic tradition (another trend!).

In an original, well-constructed fantasy world (barring some lazy naming), the Scholars have lived under Martial rule for 500 years, downtrodden and in many cases enslaved. Scholar Laia has spent a lifetime hiding her connection to the Resistance—her parents were its leaders—but when her grandparents are killed and her brother’s captured by Masks, the eerie, silver-faced elite soldiers of the Martial Empire, Laia must go undercover as a slave to the terrifying Commandant of Blackcliff Military Academy, where Martials are trained for battle. Meanwhile, Elias, the Commandant’s not-at-all-beloved son, wants to run away from Blackcliff, until he is named an Aspirant for the throne by the mysterious red-eyed Augurs. Predictably, action, intrigue, bloodshed and some pounding pulses follow; there’s betrayal and a potential love triangle or two as well. Sometimes-lackluster prose and a slight overreliance on certain kinds of sexual violence as a threat only slightly diminish the appeal created by familiar (but not predictable) characters and a truly engaging if not fully fleshed-out fantasy world.

Bound to be popular. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: April 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59514-803-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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