A hot mess of a book but weirdly compelling; buy where the first has eager fans.

UNTOLD

From the Lynburn Legacy series , Vol. 2

Middle-book syndrome strikes hard in this nouveau-gothic paranormal sequel.

Intrepid girl reporter Kami Glass and her allies expect power-hungry sorcerer Rob Lynburn to take revenge after his murderous schemes are thwarted. When a brilliantly creepy Halloween attack is followed by demands for a midwinter human sacrifice, they are left with only weeks to muster their defenses. It’s a promising setup, but the story provides only perfunctory glimpses of intensive historical research, martial arts practice and magical training, devoting chapters instead to relationship angst: friendships tested by unrequited crushes and families riven by lies and divided loyalties. Kami in particular anguishes over both her romantic triangle with the near-identical Lynburn cousins and the magical link with her that both covet. Shifting viewpoints start plot threads that simply disappear, and while the snarky banter is as witty as ever, it sits oddly amid all the interpersonal melodrama and looming danger. The (mostly offstage) villains finally return in a bloody confrontation, with disastrous results only surpassed by the macabre slaughter the supposed good guys inflict on their own side. Everything leads to a gruesome cliffhanger contrived to leave readers desperate for the final volume.

A hot mess of a book but weirdly compelling; buy where the first has eager fans. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-87042-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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Han’s impressive ear for and pitch-perfect reproduction of the interactions between not-quite-adult older teens make this an...

WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE SUMMER

Can teenage love ever be forever?

Isabel (Belly) from The Summer I Turned Pretty (2009) and It’s Not Summer Without You (2010) finishes up her freshman year at college somewhat unconvincingly committed to Jeremiah Fisher, one of the two brothers with whom she has spent summers since she was small. Isabel becomes furious to learn that Jeremiah had sex with another girl from their college in Cabo on spring break, but he wins back her affections with a grand gesture: a proposal of marriage. Caught up in the idea—she will plan a summer wedding! they will attend college as a married couple!—Isabel tries ignores her misgivings about Jeremiah, the appalled silence of her mother and her own still-strong feelings for Jeremiah’s older brother, Conrad. It’s both funny and believable when Jeremiah insists he wants to dance the wedding dance to “You Never Can Tell” from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. Han gives a satisfying nod to wedding-planning fantasies even while revealing their flimsy basis for an actual marriage. A final chapter in 23-year-old Isabel’s voice reveals the not-so-surprising happy ending.

Han’s impressive ear for and pitch-perfect reproduction of the interactions between not-quite-adult older teens make this an appealing conclusion to this trilogy romance among bright middle-class young people. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: May 3, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9558-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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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

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