An overly busy girl-power adventure.

THE UNSTOPPABLE WASP

BUILT ON HOPE

The Wasp fights a hive mind in this Marvel tie-in novel.

Sixteen-year-old Nadia Van Dyne has a superpowered suit, assassin training, and an infamous father but also wants to be a Cool American Teen. Following her escape from the Soviet Red Room and a life-changing bipolar diagnosis, Nadia strives to control her mental health and form her own family. She’s got her friends and lab partners—Priya Aggarwal, Taina Miranda, Shay Smith, and Ying Liu—and an awesome stepmom, former Wasp Janet Van Dyne, but yearns to know more about her real parents: scientist mother Maria Trovaya and Ant-Man father Hank Pym. Yet in her quest to forge connections and advance science, Nadia follows the standard superhero comic-book arc: befriending bad people, alienating allies, and almost unleashing an apocalypse. Incorporating Nadia’s canonical origins, powers, and problems, Maggs focuses on mental health issues and gender inequality. Nadia is a white Hungarian Russian émigrée, and her teammates are diverse in ethnicity, physical ability, and sexual orientation. By opting for prose over graphics, this too-long tale sacrifices some of the best elements of comic books, with once-brief fight scenes taking place over pages, not panels; lengthy dialogue substituting for succinct speech and thought bubbles; and repetitive character and place descriptions replacing visual shorthand. Non-English words are italicized.

An overly busy girl-power adventure. (Action. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-05465-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Marvel Press

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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