A wonderful, bold interpretation of a DC icon that aspires to embrace all readers, new and old.

SUPERMAN

DAWNBREAKER

From the DC Icons series

Something foul’s afoot in Smallville, Kansas.

Thanks to hefty investment from the formidable Mankins Corporation, the town’s economy is booming. While Mankins’ technology has an impact on local farms, another shadowy company is buying them up for more nefarious reasons. Partnering with his best friend and hotshot student paper editor, Lana Lang, Clark Kent seeks to uncover the truth behind the mysterious developments in Smallville. Various threads come satisfyingly together in de la Peña’s (Carmela Full of Wishes, 2018, etc.) tribute to the young Man of Steel, but the author aims for more fertile ground with an immigration subplot. Woven throughout the novel are discussions of a stop-and-search initiative in Smallville. The proposed law ostensibly targets the town’s minority migrant community; meanwhile, migrant workers are disappearing at an alarming rate. As always, Smallville functions as a fictional microcosm of the U.S., but here there’s a blunt effort to examine the bigotry and discord lurking beneath the optimistic American facade. On a personal level, Clark struggles to manage his burgeoning powers as he ponders his place in Smallville High and beyond. The existential angst that torments the young hero elicits sympathy. Familiar characters make appearances—hello, Lex Luthor—but a few Mexican characters appear in minor roles, including Clark’s love interest Gloria Alvarez, a promising Dreamer.

A wonderful, bold interpretation of a DC icon that aspires to embrace all readers, new and old. (Superhero adventure. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-54965-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Exactly what the title promises.

BETTER THAN THE MOVIES

A grieving teen’s devotion to romance films might ruin her chances at actual romance.

Liz Buxbaum has always adored rom-coms, not least for helping her still feel close to her screenwriter mother, who died when she was little. Liz hopes that her senior year might turn into a real-life romantic fantasy, as an old crush has moved back to town, cuter and nicer than ever. Surely she can get Michael to ask her to prom. If only Wes, the annoying boy next door, would help her with her scheming! This charming, fluffy concoction manages to pack into one goofy plot every conceivable trope, from fake dating to the makeover to the big misunderstanding. Creative, quirky, daydreaming Liz is just shy of an annoying stereotype, saved by a dry wit and unresolved grief and anger. Wes makes for a delightful bad boy with a good heart, and supporting characters—including a sassy best friend, a perfect popular rival, even a (not really) evil stepmother—all get the opportunity to transcend their roles. The only villain here is Liz’s lovelorn imagination, provoking her into foolish lies that cause actual hurt feelings; but she is sufficiently self-aware to make amends just in time for the most important trope of all: a blissfully happy ending. All characters seem to be White by default.

Exactly what the title promises. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6762-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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