cover image The Half-life of Planets

The Half-life of Planets

Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin, Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4231-2111-4

In alternating first-person narratives, Franklin (the Principles of Love series) and Halpin (Forever Changes) recount an offbeat teenage relationship. Liana is focused on a college-level summer course in astronomy to divert her attention from boys, after receiving a hurtful note alleging her promiscuity (“I am not a slut.... Even though I could give a guided tour of all the different places I’ve kissed different boys in this semi-small town”), while cerebral Hank, who has Asperger’s syndrome, is socially awkward and obsessed with music. Because Liana is conducting a summerlong personal experiment in which she abstains from kissing, meeting Hank brings unforeseen challenges and unexpected bonds as they learn how to relate to each other in new and meaningful ways. The two teens connect over music (they are both wellsprings of musical knowledge and band trivia), their respective family troubles, and a desire to express themselves. The discursive story favors dialogue and introspection over action and can border on melodrama, but the characters’ candid perspectives ring true and the romance should have readers longing for connections as deeply felt. Ages 12–up. (June)