Vapid, but at least it reads fast

THE ELITE

From the Selection series

Illéa’s Selection pool of potential princesses has been reduced from 35 to six (The Selection, 2012), and the competition’s getting tense.

Among the six is feisty, iconoclastic America. If Prince Maxon Selects her, as he swears he wants to, she and her lowborn family will rise to Ones in Illéa’s caste system. America is finally ready to say yes when her best friend is eliminated from the Selection with upsetting violence after being found in flagrante with her illicit boyfriend. How can America imagine marrying the future head of such an unjust government? Suddenly, former love Aspen seems attractive again. Love triangle re-established, Cass sends America’s emotions lurching back and forth between Aspen and Maxon for the rest of the book. Life at the palace is periodically punctuated by episodes of violence, as various rebel factions break in and then fall back. The mischievous Northern rebels steal books; the scary Southern ones leave threatening graffiti. Twenty-first-century readers will wonder at the monumental ineptitude of the palace guard. Cass tries to compensate for the virtually nonexistent worldbuilding of the first book with occasional infodumps and excerpts from the diary of Illéa’s founder, secretly lent to America by Maxon. As in the first book, though, the thoughts a well-formed dystopia ought to provoke are buried by the bitchy politics of the Selection and the teeter-totter of America’s yearnings.

Vapid, but at least it reads fast . (Dystopian romance. 12 & up)

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-205996-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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Swoonworthy wish fulfillment that checks all the right boxes.

HERE'S TO US

Former boyfriends’ “big Broadway love story” gets a revival in this sequel to What If It’s Us (2018).

Two years after their flash romance, Ben Alejo and Arthur Seuss (both now in college) couldn’t have drifted further apart. But destiny intervenes when Arthur lands his “ultimate top-tier pie-in-the-sky dream job” interning at a queer off-Broadway theater for the summer. Their long-anticipated reunion comes with a small catch: Both boys are basically taken. Ben met Mario in his college creative writing class, and, while they aren’t boyfriends, the connection—and attraction—is definitely there. Arthur’s officially dating Mikey, whose sweetness and steadiness saved him from remaining a “Ben-addled mess.” Cue the confusion—and inevitable broken hearts—as Ben and Arthur contend with their pasts and presents while trying to figure out their futures. Who will end up with whom? Albertalli’s and Silvera’s voices blend seamlessly, balancing the complexities of the boys’ situations with heartfelt (and heartwarming) nostalgia. As in the previous book, the narrative alternates between Ben’s and Arthur’s perspectives with off-the-charts wit and chemistry. Lovable side characters have grown and matured, while new characters expand the world to create an even stronger sense of community. Loose ends are tied up believably with an epilogue. Arthur is Jewish; Ben and Mario are Puerto Rican, and Mikey is White.

Swoonworthy wish fulfillment that checks all the right boxes. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-307163-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary,...

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THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE

The pitiless dictatorship of Francisco Franco examined through the voices of four teenagers: one American and three Spaniards.

The Spanish Civil War lasted from 1936-1939, but Franco held Spain by its throat for 36 years. Sepetys (Salt to the Sea, 2016, etc.) begins her novel in 1957. Daniel is a white Texan who wants to be a photojournalist, not an oilman; Ana is trying to work her way to respectability as a hotel maid; her brother, Rafael, wants to erase memories of an oppressive boys’ home; and Puri is a loving caregiver for babies awaiting adoption—together they provide alternating third-person lenses for viewing Spain during one of its most brutally repressive periods. Their lives run parallel and intersect as each tries to answer questions about truth and the path ahead within a regime that crushes any opposition, murders dissidents, and punishes their families while stealing babies to sell to parents with accepted political views. This formidable story will haunt those who ask hard questions about the past as it reveals the hopes and dreams of individuals in a nation trying to lie its way to the future. Meticulous research is presented through believable, complex characters on the brink of adulthood who personalize the questions we all must answer about our place in the world. 

A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary, photographs) (Historical fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-16031-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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