A carefully layered exploration of the age-old question, “Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at...

THE CAREFUL UNDRESSING OF LOVE

Smelling of lavender tea and sporting long hair and skeleton keys around their necks, the Devonairre Street Girls have grown accustomed to the stares and whispers that follow them through the streets of New York.

It’s not surprising. After all, Lorna, Charlotte, Delilah, Cruz, and Isla are beautiful and different—and cursed, for legend holds that any boy who is loved by a Devonairre Street Girl will die. But it isn’t until Delilah’s boyfriend is suddenly killed that the curse becomes real for the girls, and for the first time, the inseparable friends must decide for themselves if they will allow it to determine their futures. Told through quiet Lorna’s eyes, the lushly written first-person narrative is sensuous and rich, perfectly capturing the conflicting feelings of joy and fear that often accompany true love and meticulously laying out the peculiar terms of life on Devonairre Street. Haydu further enriches the novel with a diverse cast of compelling secondary characters, including Delilah, Lorna’s African-American best friend, and their Puerto Rican friends Isla and Cruz (Charlotte is also white). However, it’s the subtle yet powerful way that the novel addresses Lorna’s struggle to find herself when others have defined her for so long that will especially appeal to teen readers grappling with their own issues of identity.

A carefully layered exploration of the age-old question, “Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?” (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-18673-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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