An unappealing plot peopled with two-dimensional characters.

RATED

Six mismatched students fight against the societal rating system that rules every aspect of their lives.

Grey (The Savage Dawn, 2017, etc.) provides a glimpse into the panoptic future of globalized and wearable technology where teachers, parents, and peers can influence someone’s future by docking points from personal ratings. Access to food, hospitals, and education are all regulated by a person’s rating. A motley crew of students at Maplethorpe Academy are urged into action when someone graffitis, “THE RATINGS ARE NOT REAL,” onto the front door of their school. Bex, the overachieving dark-skinned brain; Javi, the ambiguously Latin and bronze-skinned gay beauty; jocks Chase (coded white) and Hana (Japanese)—dealing with an alcoholic father and an unspecified eating disorder, respectively; Tamsin, the white tarot-reading, rating-defying rebel; and Noah, the photography enthusiast, bi-curious, white recluse are individually targeted as all six receive personal messages. Unsure of who is sending them, the sextet investigates, uniting to fight the tyranny of the school princess and destroy the oppressive rating system. Ever wondered what a dystopian John Hughes young adult novel would be like? Grey closely hits the mark in her departure from fantasy and incursion into science fiction: The novel unfortunately falls into predictability, and the dystopian world is riddled with teen character stereotypes.

An unappealing plot peopled with two-dimensional characters. (Science fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-28357-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

10 BLIND DATES

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Mouths have never run so dry at the idea of thirst.

DRY

When a calamitous drought overtakes southern California, a group of teens must struggle to keep their lives and their humanity in this father-son collaboration.

When the Tap-Out hits and the state’s entire water supply runs dry, 16-year-old Alyssa Morrow and her little brother, Garrett, ration their Gatorade and try to be optimistic. That is, until their parents disappear, leaving them completely alone. Their neighbor Kelton McCracken was born into a survivalist family, but what use is that when it’s his family he has to survive? Kelton is determined to help Alyssa and Garrett, but with desperation comes danger, and he must lead them and two volatile new acquaintances on a perilous trek to safety and water. Occasionally interrupted by “snapshots” of perspectives outside the main plot, the narrative’s intensity steadily rises as self-interest turns deadly and friends turn on each other. No one does doom like Neal Shusterman (Thunderhead, 2018, etc.)—the breathtakingly jagged brink of apocalypse is only overshadowed by the sense that his dystopias lie just below the surface of readers’ fragile reality, a few thoughtless actions away. He and his debut novelist son have crafted a world of dark thirst and fiery desperation, which, despite the tendrils of hope that thread through the conclusion, feels alarmingly near to our future. There is an absence of racial markers, leaving characters’ identities open.

Mouths have never run so dry at the idea of thirst. (Thriller. 13-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8196-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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