Lightweight fluff in the Chris Lynch/Chris Crutcher mode, if that's possible

ALSO KNOWN AS ROWAN POHI

Fraud pays.

“Pohi” seems like a great last name for a fictional high-school applicant invented in an International House of Pancakes: IHOP, Pohi, see? It's a a lark for Bobby and his friends, sitting there surrounded by all those privileged Whitestone Prep kids, to fill out a Whitestone application for "Rowan Pohi," Boy Scout, National Honor Society inductee, soup-kitchen volunteer and football player. But when "Rowan" gets accepted to Whitestone, Bobby takes a good hard look at his wrong-side-of-the-tracks life and realizes this could be the opportunity of a lifetime. Whitestone's teachers and facilities are miles away from those of Bobby's crappy public high school, and of course there's the girls. Bobby almost immediately falls for Heather, "a study in whiteness: white T-shirt, white shorts, white teeth, blonde hair. And long legs." Bobby has antagonists both in and out of school, but his ultimate success at Whitestone seems undeserved; the class inequities of the system are less important to the Whitestone decision-makers than the fact that Bobby’s a nice guy with a tragic back story. A recurring evocation of faux–Native American stories, culminating in a 5-year-old's assertion that "[b]eing Spider-Man is way cooler than being an Indian," will insult Native (and other) readers.

Lightweight fluff in the Chris Lynch/Chris Crutcher mode, if that's possible . (Fiction. 13-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-57208-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Moving imagery is muddied by disjointed character representation in a novel that feels overcrowded.

ANGEL THIEVES

A Texas bayou holds memories and secrets, weaving together people and animals through connected histories.

Buffalo Bayou takes her place as part of an ensemble cast that spans nearly two centuries. Sixteen-year-old Cade Curtis is a white boy who works alongside his father stealing angel statues from cemeteries for an antiques dealer, and Soleil Broussard is a 16-year-old Creole Christian with a tiny honey bear jar tattooed on her wrist. The two attend school together in present-day Houston, Texas, but the story intertwines their connection with stories of slaves and an ocelot in a narrative that runs away like the rushing of a river. Texas is a gorgeous backdrop for the story, eliciting haunting imagery that spotlights the natural beauty of the state. Each character helps piece together a quilt of experiences that stream from the omnipresent bayou who sees, hears, and protects, and the revelations of their overlapping connections are well-paced throughout. The novel is less successful, however, at underscoring why there are so many voices battling for space in the text. Too-short vignettes that are rather haphazardly forced together provide glimpses into the lives of the characters but make it difficult to follow all of the threads. While an author’s note offers historical background explaining the inspiration for the characters, it does not provide sufficient cohesion.

Moving imagery is muddied by disjointed character representation in a novel that feels overcrowded. (author’s note) (Fiction. 13-15)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2109-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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This breathless political thriller isn't always coherent, but it keeps the adrenaline pumping

EVERY SECOND COUNTS

Two teens framed as terrorists need to save England from a terrorist attack and political takeover.

Charlie and Nat have been on the run since they were tricked into aiding a kidnapping and bombing (In a Split Second, 2015). Charlie, furious after the attack that killed her mother and left Nat's older brother in a coma, tried to do good by training as a soldier for the vigilante English Freedom Army. Nat and Charlie were told the EFA existed to fight terrorists like the racist League of Iron, but it turns out they were terrorists, fomenting chaos to support the political aspirations of charismatic politician Roman Riley. Now the teens, distracted by both their romance and Charlie's family secrets, must stop Riley from creating a far worse atrocity. Their single-minded focus on each other even as they learn of potentially horrific casualties can be read as either romantic or utterly lacking in empathy, but at least they prioritize the mission. Chapters that alternate their perspectives, most only about three pages, maintain endless urgency in the style of the television series 24. Though some lulls might have improved the flow, the nonstop action distracts from plot holes and flat secondary characters. U.S. readers may be bemused at the U.K. revolutionaries’ discussions of bombings but shock at the use of guns.

This breathless political thriller isn't always coherent, but it keeps the adrenaline pumping . (Thriller. 13-15)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3926-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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