If readers can suspend some disbelief and simply roll with what’s offered, perhaps this will work for them.

PEANUT

A faked allergy spins wildly out of control in this prosaic graphic novel.

Starting at a new school, sophomore Sadie Wildhack is led by first-day jitters to concoct one whopper of a lie: She informs her classmates that she is gravely allergic to peanuts. Her feigned condition serves as the perfect segue into new conversations, and it eventually helps Sadie find friends and even a handsome boyfriend named Zoo. As most lies do, Sadie’s catches up with her, and predictably, she is forced to confess to her prolonged pretense. While the theme of the story is universal (lying is bad!), here it is sadly pedestrian in its execution, verging on didactic. The notion of faking a peanut allergy feels juvenile, something better suited to a middle schooler than a high school student. Despite this, Hoppe's artistic style helps add some interest. Sadie's feelings of unease are visually palpable, evinced through her always-red shirt (and many wardrobe changes) set adrift against a backdrop of blacks, whites and grays. With its odd subject, this at times feels like an after school special, trying to show how relevant and edgy it could be, and is reminiscent of the failed Minx line from DC Comics.

If readers can suspend some disbelief and simply roll with what’s offered, perhaps this will work for them. (Graphic fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86590-9

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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A great read offering entertainment, encouragement, and plenty to reflect upon.

SPIN ME RIGHT ROUND

A gay teen contends with time travel—and homophobia through the decades.

All Cuban American Luis wants is to be prom king with his boyfriend, but tiny upstate New York boarding school Antic Springs Academy, with its strict, Christian code of conduct, won’t even let them hold hands in public. After a disastrous prom committee meeting at which his attempt to make the event welcoming of queer couples is rejected by the principal, Luis gets quite literally knocked into the past—specifically, ASA in the year 1985. There he meets Chaz, a Black student who attended the school at the same time as Luis’ parents and who died under mysterious circumstances after being bullied for his sexuality. Luis now faces a choice between changing the past to help Chaz and preserving his own future existence. Fortunately, he has Ms. Silverthorn, a Black English teacher and beloved mentor, who offers him support in both timelines. The narrative explores the impacts of homophobia and being closeted, remaining optimistic without shying away from the more brutal aspects. Luis is a multifaceted character with an engaging voice whose flaws are confronted and examined throughout. The solid pacing and pleasant, fluid prose make this a page-turner. Luis’ boyfriend is cued as Chinese American, and his best friend is nonbinary; there is some diversity in ethnicity and sexuality in background characters, although the school is predominantly White.

A great read offering entertainment, encouragement, and plenty to reflect upon. (author's note) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0710-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A suspenseful mystery diminished by outdated gender stereotypes.

THE MURDER GAME

A murder in a boarding school leads a teen sleuth down a dangerous path.

When Luke and his roommate, Oscar, snuck out of their dorm room after hours to hook up with two girls in the woods, they did not expect to get involved in a murder. Dean Heckler’s young wife’s body is found the morning after, near the place the teens were hanging out. Fear of being expelled prevents them from confessing their presence around the time of the murder—but when Oscar becomes a suspect, Luke starts his own investigation to prove his best friend’s innocence. Fortunately, three years earlier Luke had escaped a kidnapping using survival skills learned from his former–POW grandfather, the same skills he now needs if he wants to find the true murderer and get out of this situation alive. This whodunit has enough twists and red herrings to make for an intriguing mystery if readers are prepared to suspend disbelief at how frequently adult characters act with implausible negligence. The book is also weighed down by a haze of misogyny when describing both girls at the school as well as the murdered woman, who remains a vapid, one-note seductress throughout. Luke’s vague and perfunctory attempts at challenging his male friends in their sexist views are not enough to clear the chauvinist miasma. Main characters are White.

A suspenseful mystery diminished by outdated gender stereotypes. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-229-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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