Despite some pacing hiccups, a series ender packed with action, scary enemies, and satisfying character arcs.

HEART OF THE STORM

From the Undertow Trilogy series , Vol. 3

Half-human, half-Sirena white teenager Lyric faces the biggest threat to the world yet in this trilogy closer.

The story jumps timelines by chapters that alternate between a present time and the three months between the present time and the end of Raging Sea (2016). In the present, a shell-shocked Lyric has clearly been through hell but has emerged again from the depths of the ocean, bearing terrible news of a new existential threat, far worse than the Rusalka or Undine. In the three-months-prior storyline, Lyric encounters an intelligent Rusalka who keeps her alive in the face of mad Minerva’s wrath and helps her learn more about Alpha mythology and the magic gloves that tether her to Husk. The alternating storylines don’t always work well together—the present one prevents surprises in the past storyline and unnecessarily prolongs the wait for details on the long-hinted-at threat. Once Lyric reunites with her cast of supporting characters and their land-based enemies start moving, the story picks up. The romantic storyline starts with the love triangle between Lyric and stoic Alpha warrior-prince Fathom and the sweet, hot geek hybrid Riley but then concludes in a way that’s as unexpected as it is satisfying, coinciding with character growth and development.

Despite some pacing hiccups, a series ender packed with action, scary enemies, and satisfying character arcs. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-34867-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development.

I KISSED SHARA WHEELER

A romance with solid queer representation set against the backdrop of an Alabama Christian school.

Chloe Green is the only one who sees through Shara Wheeler’s goody-two-shoes act, and now that Shara’s pulled a disappearing act right before being crowned prom queen, she makes it her business to find her. This means teaming up with unlikely allies like Smith Parker, Shara’s jock boyfriend, and Rory Heron, the brooding boy next door, both in love with Shara, just as Chloe claims she is not. What brings the trio together is a series of notes Shara has left them, along with the awkward fact that she kissed all three of them before vanishing. McQuiston’s YA debut starts off as a fun page-turner with a rich cast of queer characters but ultimately disappoints with its predictable plot twists and protagonists whose journeys feel lackluster. In a story that uplifts the importance of friendship and found family, the main character’s tunnel vision and indifference toward her friends’ problems make for an ending that doesn’t feel earned. Rather than coming across as a complicated but earnest love interest, Shara feels superficial and narcissistic, raising the question of why so many people drop everything to pursue her. Shara and Chloe are White; Rory has a White mom and Black dad, and Smith is described as having dark brown skin. Bisexual Chloe has two moms.

An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development. (author’s note) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-24445-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers.

YOU'VE REACHED SAM

Technology prevails over death, giving a teenage couple a second chance at goodbye.

High school senior Julie is paralyzed with grief over her boyfriend Sam’s death in a car accident. She avoids his funeral and throws away every reminder of him. They had planned to leave their small Pacific Northwest town together, and she now faces an uncertain and empty future. But one night she impulsively dials his cell, and, inexplicably, Sam answers. This is the first of many long conversations they have, neither understanding how or why this is happening but relishing the chance to say goodbye as they could not in life. However, Julie faces a difficult choice: whether or not to alleviate the pain of Sam’s loved ones by allowing them to talk to him, though it could put their own connection at risk. Yet, letting go and moving on might be just what she needs. The emotional tenor of the book is even throughout, making the characters feel remote at times and flattening the impact of momentous events—such as Julie and Sam’s first conversation—that are often buried in minor, day-in-the-life details. The time skips can also be difficult to follow. But the concept is a smart one and is sure to intrigue readers, especially those grappling with separation, loss, and mortality. Sam is cued as Japanese American; Julie defaults to White.

A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76203-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more