Don’t Cosplay With My Heart by Cecil Castellucci
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Edan Kupferman’s life sucks–or at least it does now. Her father is being “sequestered” as his bookkeeping practices for some major motion pictures are pending trial, her mother is too depressed to leave the bedroom, and her grandma has swooped in to try and pick up the slack. Fortunately, Edan has Gargantua, the antihero of her favorite graphic novel/cartoon Team Tomorrow.
Edan is thoroughly bitten by the cosplay bug after attending her first comicon and running into the crush of her life, Yuri, who–it turns out–is interested in her. The question is, would she rather be with Kirk, another guy who joins her new cosplay club and seems to be a hero of epic proportions.
This is a romance that is sure to appeal to undercover superhero nerds, and it is fun for both the niche cosplay readers and suckers for a good romance. Castellucci deftly deals with issues of dating, feminism, and self-worth without graphic discussion about sex or use of strong language, which makes this a book that is as developmentally appropriate for middle school students as for high school readers. This is a great read alike for the more grown up The Pros of Cons by Alison Cherry, Lindsay Ribar, and Michelle Shusterman.
People Like Us by Dana Mele
G.P. Putnam’s Sons / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
When posh boarding school student and soccer star Kay Donovan stumbles upon the body of a dead classmate floating in the school’s lake after a school dance, she finds herself the target of a digital revenge scheme left behind by the murdered girl on Kay’s computer. With the help of the class outcast, Kay follows the clues in an to attempt to clear her name in the police’s murder investigation and to save her sinking reputation. She discovers dangerous secrets and motives about her fellow classmates, and exposes her own past demons, all of which seem to lead right back to Kay as the murderer.
People Like Us is a fast-paced dark psychological thriller that will hook readers immediately and keep them engaged with its twisted and suspenseful digital “Clue” plot. The large cast of unique characters from various backgrounds and experiences adds depth and wide appeal without overly complicating this already twisty narrative. Filled with love-triangles, gossip, murder, and secrets, teens will devour this one.
Hand to viewers of Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and Riverdale or fans of Karen McManus’s One of Us is Lying, Teresa Toten’s Beware That Girl, or April Henry’s The Girl I Used to Be.
— Kaitlin Troch
Expelled by James Patterson and Emily Raymond
Jimmy Patterson Books/Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: October, 23, 2017
It’s not enough that Theo Foster’s dad killed himself after being diagnosed with ALS, now Theo finds himself the subject of an expulsion for tweeting a photo of the school’s star quarterback holding a bottle of alcohol, hand around a topless (and headless) girl’s waist, and the school’s mascot peeing on a jersey. To be fair, Jude–his bisexual, virgin friend AND the school mascot–is also being expelled along with Parker, the aforementioned quarterback. The problem is, Theo is innocent. As he takes stock of his circumstances, he realizes that this expulsion will utterly wreck his chances to get out of his small town and get into college. That is enough to motivate him to begin a student-directed documentary that will prove his and Jude’s innocence. All of this is set against a crush on the brilliant, but manic pixie dream girl, Sasha, whose expulsion for a different infraction significantly frees up her schedule to help in this escapade.
The cover doesn’t do the story justice, since it is told in first person by Theo, and the girl on the cover is far more wholesome in appearance than the sophisticated Sasha, but that won’t matter much to readers. The first page will grab them, and the twists and turns of the plot will keep them hooked. Jude’s witty banter injects humor into what could otherwise be a pretty dark story. Reluctant readers will find themselves flying through the short chapters just to get to the bombshell ending. Fans of Gordon Jack’s The Boomerang Effect and Karen McManus’s One of Us is Lying will enjoy this realistic thriller.