Readers who think colloquium interruptum is an exceptionally slender premise for a 300-plus–page trilogy conclusion are...

THE ONE

From the Selection series , Vol. 3

The 35 Selection candidates have been whittled down to four; whom will Prince Maxon choose?

There’s contained, competent Elise, sweet, kind Kriss, gorgeous, bitchy Celeste and narrator America, who just can’t seem to keep herself from upsetting the apple cart of the Illéan monarchy. Her impulsive thoughts and actions—when the bad Southern rebels start picking off victims caste by caste, she advises the populace to fight back—have King Clarkson fuming. He wants America gone, but America and Maxon want each other—maybe. Amid sorties to meet with the nice Northern rebels and the pageantry of the Selection, the tiresome push-pull of Cass’ love triangle continues. America and Maxon, and America and hometown sweetheart–turned–palace guard Aspen, keep coming this close to having the critical conversations that will settle matters; it is this tension, not the pretense of political drama, that maintains the plot. Though there’s some attempt made to fill out some of the secondary characterizations, by and large it falls flat. King Clarkson in particular is a cartoon of a blustering strongman; it’s impossible to take him at all seriously as a ruling head of state. And for all America’s protestations of spunky egalitarianism, there’s absolutely nothing in her character or the story structure that does anything but support the corrupt system she supposedly rejects.

Readers who think colloquium interruptum is an exceptionally slender premise for a 300-plus–page trilogy conclusion are right. (Dystopian romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-205999-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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

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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Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier.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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An appealing spin on traditional fantasy elements.

WE HUNT THE FLAME

From the Sands of Arawiya series , Vol. 1

Threatened by the encroaching darkness of the Arz, the kingdom of Arawiya and its five caliphates can only be saved by an artifact that will restore magic to the land.

The caliphate of Demenhur is covered in snow where there once was sand, its people on the brink of starvation but for the efforts of the Hunter. Few know that the Hunter, able to navigate the cursed forests of the Arz, is actually 17-year-old Zafira, disguised as a man since women are perceived as tainted in Demenhur. Nasir is both prince and assassin, his targets the perceived enemies of his father, the tyrannical, abusive sultan. When Zafira is summoned to embark on a quest for the lost jewel, Nasir is sent after her, to take it and kill her. They are soon thrown together, first as enemies and then reluctant allies, by the secrets and whispers of an enemy who poses an even greater threat. Debut author Faizal paints a vivid world, inspired by ancient Arabia and its mythology, that will appeal to fantasy and romance readers as well as fans of the Assassin’s Creed video games. The prose is at times beautiful, at times awkward. Themes of morality and understanding others beyond stereotypes are present throughout, though some characters are not well-fleshed-out. Characters embody different physical characteristics, with humans ranging from pale to dark-brown skinned and various fantastical creatures.

An appealing spin on traditional fantasy elements. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-31154-4

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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