School’s out — or about to be — so it’s time for kids to get a young-adult reading list together. Here’s a sampling for the teenage set, from the wrap-up of an epic alien invasion to an emotional tale about a rock-star dad (maybe!).


THE LAST STAR By Rick Yancey Putnam, 352 pp.

Rick Yancey sticks the (alien) landing in the action-packed finale to his The 5th Wave invasion saga. His main characters are all together again in The

Last Star ( eeeg out of four) as the villainous Others prepare their final assault on mankind. The climax rotates points of view between hardened heroine Cassie Sullivan, her ex- Other love interest Evan Walker, the brave and conflicted soldier Zombie and the newly superhuman Ringer. As his young charges face the end of days, Yancey subtly explores the small details that make us human and the big moments that truly test faith through an epic sci-fi yarn. And the author gives us a major dose of girl power as well, pairing Cassie and Ringer for an uneasy alliance that provides the best moments in this fantastic series’ thought-provoking and satisfying conclusion.

THE HATERS By Jesse Andrews Abrams, 336 pp.

The Haters ( eeeg), Jesse Andrews’ follow-up to Me and

Earl and the Dying Girl, is an extremely entertaini­ng number that focuses on a couple of jazzcamp rejects: introverte­d bassist Wes and raucous drummer/best pal Corey, who pretty much hate on everything until they meet a mysterious guitar muse in Ash. She’s what many parents would consider a bad influence, and she busts them out of a landscape of dudes and “Jazz Voice” to find their own groove on the road for a crazy touring adventure. The novel tackles diversity and friendship in subversive fashion as the trio fights through broken-down vehicles, bar fights and other obstacles along the way. It’s also downright hilarious when they riff on band names, new songs or just living life.

SAVE ME, KURT COBAIN By Jenny Manzer Delacorte, 272 pp.

Nico is a 15-year-old Canadian girl who has never recovered from her mother suddenly leaving her behind when she was 4. Mom was a Nirvana obsessive with ties to the early days of the grunge scene, which has Nico wondering: She has never quite clicked with her father, so could Kurt Cobain be her real dad? A chance meeting with a Cobain lookalike on a Seattle ferry fuels the excellent concept behind Manzer’s debut novel Save Me, Kurt Cobain ( eeg), set in 2006 (Cobain died in 1994). Yet this comingof-age tale never fully takes off — Save Me instead gets bogged down in melodramat­ic side stories, a fleeting romantic entangleme­nt that doesn’t quite work and a music-history lesson that smells like teen spirit yet adds little to Nico’s Pacific Northwest quest.

THE OUTLIERS By Kimberly McCreight HarperColl­ins, 352 pp.

The Outliers ( ee), a sci-fi thriller, begins a new YA trilogy with a muddled mystery and a storytelli­ng thud. Still reeling from the accidental death of her mom, Wylie is a teenage girl thrown into the thick of intrigue when her troubled ex-best friend Cassie vanishes. Wylie and Cassie’s boyfriend go on a wild-goose chase, receiving Cassie’s desperate text messages, avoiding dangerous people and winding up at a strange camp that may or may not be connected to Wylie’s father’s work in the science of emotional intelligen­ce. Flashbacks fleshing out Wylie’s story confuse the situation even more. Despite an interestin­g cliffhange­r, this “chosen one” tale fails to put you on tenterhook­s about where it will go.

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