Kirkus + Bang = Star

Kirkus logo

I’m thrilled to announce that Bang has received its second starred review, this time from the folks at Kirkus! (The first star was from School Library Journal.)

Here’s a snippet:

Rich characterization anchors this explosive novel, from white Sebastian’s likable, brainy, but at-times acerbic intensity to Aneesa’s upbeat, intelligent kindness. Aneesa is Muslim—her dad is Turkish-American—and she and Sebastian discuss everything from Islamophobia to their families to how to turn his pizza-making hobby into a YouTube Channel…. Readers will root for him to find some sort of peace.

Heartbreaking and brutally compelling.

Read the entire review over at Kirkus.

(You can read an excerpt of Bang at EW.com!)

A Star for BANG!


I’m thrilled to announce that School Library Journal has given Bang a starred review in its February 17 issue, saying, in part:

Lyga (I Hunt Killers) tackles a number of relevant issues in this heartbreaking novel, including gun control, suicide, and religious and racial prejudice. The pain and anguish Sebastian feels every day are raw and chafing, and the chemistry between Sebastian and Aneesa is tender and realistic. VERDICT With a number of sensitive issues addressed, along with frequent graphic language, this book may be best for a mature audience, who will fully appreciate the unwavering and stark realism.

Thanks, SLJ!

(You can read an excerpt from Bang at EW.com!)

But Seriously: Buy This Book

AdriftLast week, I implored you to preorder Adrift by Paul Griffin. Well, just now Publishers Weekly has joined the chorus, giving the book a coveted star in its review:

In a terrifying survival story in which past traumas are as visceral and intense as present circumstances, five teenagers try to stay alive after becoming lost off the Atlantic coast. Raised in a blue-collar neighborhood in Queens, friends Matt and John are working in Montauk, N.Y., for the summer when they meet 17-year-old Driana Gonzaga, her Brazilian cousin Estefania, and Estefania’s boyfriend, João. After Estefania attempts some daring night surfing, the other teenagers attempt to rescue her in a small, ill-equipped boat; engine problems soon strand them. Griffin (Burning Blue) gives his characters just enough know-how to keep them from being completely helpless, but the situation is clearly beyond their control. Police emails and other communications provide brief respites from the rapidly degrading situation on the boat. Profound moments such as when Matt realizes that the “cruel” sun “was just being what it was. A mindless, merciless star that would shine on whatever got in its way” will haunt readers as much as the lethal injuries, worsening weather, class friction, and psychological instability the teenagers face.

Preorder Adrift now:

A Second Star for Blood of My Blood

Blood of My BloodI am thrilled to announce that Blood of My Blood has received a second starred review, this time from School Library Journal. (The first one was from Booklist.)

Jasper “Jazz” Dent is locked in a storage locker with two dead bodies, trying to nurse his own bullet wound in the dim light of a fading cellphone. Picking up (without pause) from the cliff-hanger ending in Game (2013), Lyga’s series about the 17-year-old who was first introduced in I Hunt Killers (2012) as the son of escaped killer Billy Dent continues as he tries to aid the police in his father’s recapture. Unaware that his girlfriend Connie has been lured by Billy to a Brooklyn tenement house and imprisoned with Jazz’s mother, and that his hemophiliac friend, Howie, has been attacked, Jazz faces his demons alone—including repressed memories with sexual undertones, and the creepy voice of Billy educating his son on the acumen required to be a good serial killer (appearing in italics). The worrisome genetic factor plagues Jazz yet propels him in the right direction to foil some copycat killers and elude authorities long enough to solve his own life’s mysteries. Obstructing the law, the teen follows clues that take him back home to Lobo’s Nod for the chilling climax and surprise ending, despite red herrings thrown in the readers’ path at every turn. Connie and Howie continue to play major roles in this episode, often providing their own points-of-view, as do officers Hughes and Tanner as bumbling but likable authorities. As a trilogy wrap-up, this gory winner with raw appeal requires having read the first two titles.

Thanks, SLJ!

Starred Review for Blood of My Blood

alvina_bombThe psyched woman flashing the hook ’em horns is my editor, Alvina Ling. And she is psyched for the same reason I am: Booklist just gave Blood of My Blood its first starred review!

Check it out:lyga_bloodofmyblood_hc

Lyga’s burial of the I Hunt Killers trilogy cements it
as one of the most ambitious thriller series in YA history, and the absolute best cliff from which teen readers can dive into the grueling world of adult crime procedurals. Given the violence of Game (2013), it’s no shocker that Jazz, Connie, and Howie begin laid up in the hospital. But there’s no rest for the wicked: in short order—this novel’s time frame is brutally truncated—Jazz busts out, determined to do away with, once and for all, his serial killer pop, Billy Dent. First, though, he’ll need to divine the truth behind “the Crows,” which appears to be a cult of murderers in thrall to the elder Dent. Jazz’s central conflict of using his dad’s sociopathic tricks without himself sliding into sociopathy is writ large here, with Jazz’s every evasive move against encroaching cops more morally questionable than the previous. You can’t stop reading, though—as before, Lyga’s strength is a plot that rockets with blood-slicked assurance and with the intercut speed (and splatter) of Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs (1988). Will Jazz end up a Crow or just another “prospect”? Here’s hoping the Edgar Awards retroactively presents Lyga a trio of statuettes for his chilling three-book answer.

A comparison to The Silence of the Lambs, the ur-text for the modern serial killer novel? Yeah, I’ll take it.