Books by Richard Lewis

MONSTER’S PROOF by Richard Lewis
FANTASY
Released: July 7, 2009

Fifteen-year-old cheerleader Godeliva "Livey" Ell struggles with algebra, while her ten-year-old genius brother, Darby, resembles their clueless mathematician father, absent theoretical physicist mother and wacky great-aunt Ludy, a mathematician who worked on the first hydrogen bomb and developed the "Thingamabob Conjecture." With the help of Aunt Ludy's old books, Darby proves the conjecture, unleashing a megalomaniac from another universe, The Alpha Omega Function ("Bob" for short), who relishes the Pythagorean Brotherhood that worships him as well as Skippy Super Chunk peanut butter, sets out to fix the asymmetry on earth (e.g., righting the Leaning Tower of Pisa) and wreaks untold havoc. A ridiculous chase to capture this genie-like monster ensues, with Darby and Livey aided by a seraph and a rebel angel and the FBI on everyone's heels. Despite the unique math angle, the only thing this slow, convoluted thriller consistently proves is its unappealing qualities to teens: stereotyped characters, false voices, failed attempts at humor, Livey's undeveloped romance with the rebel angel and religious undertones that border on didacticism. Skip to the next problem. (Fantasy. 12-16)Read full book review >
THE DEMON QUEEN by Richard Lewis
FANTASY
Released: June 17, 2008

A teen boy must save the world from his evil spirit twin. Rescued from deportation to Cambodia, 15-year-old Jesse lives with his foster family in quiet Longview in central Illinois. Honor, the new girl in school, wears jewelry formed from centipedes and scorpions, and when she arrives, strange and creepy things start happening around town. Through visits from the spirit of a Balinese priest, Jesse learns that Honor is about to bring Rangda, the Balinese demon queen, to Longview. According to the priest, Jesse is the only one who can stop her. Although the Balinese-folklore aspect is unusual in a YA-horror setting, it works fairly well and lays out an interesting battle between good and evil. The way in which Jesse thwarts Honor, however, is trite, and while readers will find Jesse easy to relate to and even likable, some of the language choices in both narration and dialogue seem distinctly out of tune with a Midwestern teenage voice. The epilogue invites either closure or a sequel. (Horror. 12 & up)Read full book review >
THE KILLING SEA by Richard Lewis
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Dec. 5, 2006

Drawing on experience as a volunteer relief worker in Indonesia and interviews with survivors, Lewis applies two human faces to the devastating 2005 tsunami. Toggling between two teens, Ruslan, an artistic Indonesian male, and Sarah, a slightly stereotypical spoiled American on vacation, readers are provided a multi-dimensional view of the region slightly before, during and after the tsunami strikes. This delivers a vivid and unflinching account applicable to a global audience. Despite its focus on the tsunami, elements of the region's political unrest are also woven into the main storyline, increasing the drama of the narrative. However, Indonesia's internal struggle takes a back seat to the tsunami and, unfortunately, is not adequately explained; this proves to be potentially confusing at times. Despite the emotional heaviness of this fictional story, Lewis tempers the tsunami's horror with Ruslan and Sarah's durable sense of hope and their new, but strongly forged friendship, which by the end borders on romance. (author's note, maps) (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
THE FLAME TREE by Richard Lewis
FICTION
Released: Aug. 1, 2004

In this uneasy mix of thriller and didacticism, 12-year-old Isaac, son of American missionary doctors in Java, finds his life in danger after September 11, 2001, when fundamentalist Muslims rebel against Americans. Although Isaac and his parents have made friends among the locals, no one helps when Isaac is taken captive and treated brutally. The physical setting is well-conveyed, but readers get almost no political or historical background to put the Muslim's angry actions in context. Negative imagery describes the Islamic fundamentalists; one's smile curves as sharply as "a scimitar's blade," and his "long narrow tongue flickered as he spoke." Even a seemingly kind Islamic scholar and a wise religious leader do little to protect the boy from physical violence. The climax, with its scenes of Isaac and his mother forgiving those who harmed him, are unconvincing and heavy-handed. The author, who lives in Indonesia, clearly knows the culture and presumably hopes to build a bridge between the two religious traditions, but both emerge tarnished, especially Islam. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
IN THE SPACE OF THE SKY by Richard Lewis
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2001

Frasier's (Miss Alaineus, 2000, etc.) bright yellow, orange, red, green, and blue collages of cut paper set in quilt-like designs are dazzling. Birds, flowers, leaves, a snail, the sun, the moon, and stars are all arranged in swirls of color, bound together with paper stitches that add to the color and sense of movement. Undeniably beautiful, they overwhelm the spare, contemplative poem that they accompany. "There-in the space of the sky is a field for the sun, / a sea for the moon, / clouds where storms can hide, / stars where silence sings." The words are lovely to read aloud. In the end a child goes "into my house . . . And here-in the space of my dream, / I see all of the earth and all of the sky." The illustrations do not express the distance that these words imply. The poem and the illustrations are each lovely on their own. Together, they result in sensory overload that limits rather than expands the imagination. (Picture book/poetry. 4-7)Read full book review >