Readers untroubled by brutal, compassion-free violence will find plenty to admire in Chapman’s gamer pacing, clever...

DUALED

Violent teen dystopias are nothing new, but this debut, in which every character is or soon will be a killer, kicks it up a notch.

Ever since a vaccine gone wrong rendered the population sterile, humans have been bioengineered. In the well-fortified city-state of Kersh, the ruling Board creates a genetic double (Alt) for every newborn; they are raised in separate families. Sometime between the ages of 10 and 20, each Alt is “assigned” without notice to kill the other within 30 days; if neither succeeds, the Board terminates both. (The rationale—breeding a population of soldiers to repel invasion—makes little sense.) Successful killers (“completes”) move on guilt-free to better food, schools, marriages and careers. When their friend Chord gets his assignment, Luc’s efforts to keep his sister, West, from involving herself end disastrously. Remorseful, West takes up contract killing. Fighting back, overthrowing the Board or sabotaging the system never occur to her, even as a fantasy. A few characters condemn class privilege (rich Alts can afford better training and hired killers) but rebel, puzzlingly, by becoming hired killers themselves. No one finds the price of safety too high to accept.

Readers untroubled by brutal, compassion-free violence will find plenty to admire in Chapman’s gamer pacing, clever suspense—here, stalking is a two-way street—and fast-mounting body count. (Dystopian adventure. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-93154-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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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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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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