SILVER ON THE TREE

The three Drew children and their uncle Merry, an Old One from outside of Time; young Will Stanton who learned of his identity as an Old One in The Dark Is Rising; Will's albino friend Bran, really King Arthur's son Pendragon brought forward to be reared in our time; Arthur himself, at the climax; a benign, disappointingly spiritless Taliesen; and all the forces of the Light and the Dark converge in Wales for the final cosmic battle in Cooper's ambitious, five-volume, resolutely High fantasy. First the children and Merry become Six assembled, later to wield the protective Six Signs which Will had gathered in the earlier volume; next Will and Bran must journey to a Lost Land where Bran's crystal sword must be acquired from a world-weary craftsman/King in his remote glass tower; and at last (this final task is announced to cast and reader alike only as the company is madly racing the Riders of the Dark to its location), the forces of Light, with the Six at the center, must pluck a sprig of mistletoe at the moment of its blossoming—for whichever side accomplishes the plucking will thereby command all the powers of the previously uncommitted Old and Wild Magic. To the end Cooper wields her cryptic prophecies, obscure instructions, and arbitrary contingencies, rules, and conditions with the authority of a sleight-of-hand master; and to the end the discrepancy between her grand scheme and the particulars of the story is unbridged, giving a morally and intellectually hollow ring to the whole. Even at the end, when the much-respected Lady wearily pronounces, "It is done. Our task is accomplished," the actual nature and consequences of that accomplishment remain meaninglessly abstract. And though there is welcome relief in Merry's final charge—the battle from here on is up to humans, who will get no more magic help—it does make the purportedly final and crucial battle that has gone before that much harder to credit.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1977

ISBN: 1416949682

Page Count: 294

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1977

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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