Title aside, a good place for young fans of Lois Duncan and Christopher Pike.

GIRL IN A BAD PLACE

Best friends Mailee and Cara’s bond is tested when Cara becomes enthralled with a charismatic cult leader the summer before their senior year.

Disorganized Mailee has always depended on Cara’s focus to make their future dreams of working in show business come true. So she’s stunned when Cara decides to turn her life over to Firehorse, the alluring leader of the Haven, a small commune in the wilderness near their Montana home. Cara’s been in mourning since her younger sister, Harper, died in a car accident and is initially attracted to Haven after a chance meeting with Avalon, a little girl who lives there. But Mailee is troubled by the commune’s lack of basic resources and the small concrete prison she discovers on its outskirts. When Cara invites Mailee to a Haven “harvest celebration” that will culminate in her initiation into the commune, Mailee tries to free her friend—an attempt that nearly ends in tragedy. Though the plot is predictable and the climax preposterous, Mailee’s extensive research into the veracity of Firehorse’s anti-government rants is a well-timed nod to current “fake news” controversies. Mailee and Cara are white, Mailee’s boyfriend, Gavin, is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet tribe, and secondary character Brigit is black.

Title aside, a good place for young fans of Lois Duncan and Christopher Pike. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-10105-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Point/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers...

NEVER FALL DOWN

A harrowing tale of survival in the Killing Fields.

The childhood of Arn Chorn-Pond has been captured for young readers before, in Michelle Lord and Shino Arihara's picture book, A Song for Cambodia (2008). McCormick, known for issue-oriented realism, offers a fictionalized retelling of Chorn-Pond's youth for older readers. McCormick's version begins when the Khmer Rouge marches into 11-year-old Arn's Cambodian neighborhood and forces everyone into the country. Arn doesn't understand what the Khmer Rouge stands for; he only knows that over the next several years he and the other children shrink away on a handful of rice a day, while the corpses of adults pile ever higher in the mango grove. Arn does what he must to survive—and, wherever possible, to protect a small pocket of children and adults around him. Arn's chilling history pulls no punches, trusting its readers to cope with the reality of children forced to participate in murder, torture, sexual exploitation and genocide. This gut-wrenching tale is marred only by the author's choice to use broken English for both dialogue and description. Chorn-Pond, in real life, has spoken eloquently (and fluently) on the influence he's gained by learning English; this prose diminishes both his struggle and his story.

Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers will seek out the history themselves. (preface, author's note) (Historical fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-173093-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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