This thick volume should conjure the heebie-jeebies for even the most experienced of supernatural connoisseurs.

DEFY THE DARK

Sixteen darkly alluring stories relate horrid and extraordinary events that can occur only in the absence of light.

Each uniquely eerie, goose bump–raising tale confidently journeys into the unknown, and almost every one has a thread of teen romance. The quietly disturbing opening story, Courtney Summers’ “Sleepstalk,” tells of a girl so obsessively in love that she stalks her sleepwalking ex-boyfriend. She feels she can’t exist without him and will make sure he doesn’t exist without her. In Dia Reeves’ “The Dark Side of the Moon,” a town is perforated by fissures through which monsters enter. The well-adjusted citizens know how to battle everything but the night trolley, which goes to a place from which no one has ever returned alive. One young man, however, intent on impressing his girlfriend, takes the ride of his life. Four friends find themselves stuck on a roller coaster in “Almost Normal,” by Carrie Ryan, awaiting the zombie takeover of their town. Before the gory finale, the teens ponder the end of the mundane and the beginning of eternal hungering, craving oblivion. Christine Johnson offers the heartbreaking “Shadowed,” in which a cursed girl must never leave the dark lest her shadow murder her.

This thick volume should conjure the heebie-jeebies for even the most experienced of supernatural connoisseurs. (Supernatural/short stories. 14 & up)

Pub Date: June 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-212354-1

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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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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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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