The cliffhanger ending is merely an abrupt pause in the action—this chapter is essentially just scene-setting for the...

THE HEIR

From the Selection series , Vol. 4

Cass’ bestselling Selection trilogy is now a series, with the fourth installment picking up 20 years after The One (2014).

Narrated by Eadlyn, the 18-year-old firstborn of King Maxon and Queen America and the next in line for the throne of Illéa, the tale perpetuates the same stiff dialogue and obvious premise of its predecessors, though there is a tiny twist to the latter. This time, it’s "The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games meets The Taming of the Shrew." Eadlyn is a practical princess, primarily concerned with preparing to one day rule the country. From the get-go, readers are bludgeoned with evidence that in her focus on leadership, she is too brusque and insensitive, both with the people closest to her and the wider national population. Her family makes the case that provincial unrest will be quelled if she would just stop being a ballbreaker, find a husband, and give the masses a distraction-cum-reason to love the monarchy again. “You can be brave and still be feminine…you can be queen and still be a bride,” her twin brother assures her. Thus is Eadlyn strong-armed into participating in a Selection of her own, and the broadly drawn novel is primarily concerned with setting up most of the contenders to be a 50-50 shot. After dispatching the low-hanging fruit, she winds up with a group of “loud, strange boys” who “all matter” to her.

The cliffhanger ending is merely an abrupt pause in the action—this chapter is essentially just scene-setting for the inevitable continuation(s). (Dystopian romance. 13 & up)

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-234985-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2015

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An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends.

RED QUEEN

From the Red Queen series , Vol. 1

Amid a war and rising civil unrest, a young thief discovers the shocking power within her that sparks a revolution.

At 17, Mare knows that without an apprenticeship or job, her next birthday will bring a conscription to join the war. She contributes to her poor family’s income the only way she can, stealing from the Silvers, who possess myriad powers and force her and her fellow Reds into servitude. The Silvers literally bleed silver, and they can manipulate metal, plants and animals, among many other talents. When Mare’s best friend, Kilorn, loses his job and is doomed to conscription, she is determined to change his fate. She stumbles into a mysterious stranger after her plan goes awry and is pulled out of her village and into the world of Silver royalty. Once inside the palace walls, it isn’t long before Mare learns that powers unknown to red-blooded humans lie within her, powers that could lead a revolution. Familiar tropes abound. Mare is revealed as a great catalyst for change among classes and is groomed from rags to riches, and of course, seemingly kind characters turn out to be foes. However, Aveyard weaves a compelling new world, and Mare and the two men in her life evolve intriguingly as class tension rises. Revolution supersedes romance, setting the stage for action-packed surprises.

An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-231063-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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