Will appeal not only to psychological-thriller fans, but to those who want a little glamour, some A-list social politics and...

ALL FALL DOWN

From the Embassy Row series , Vol. 1

A 16-year-old Army brat, unpleasantly in the public eye, copes with grief over her dead mother and fears for her own mental health.

In this new series by the author of the Gallagher Girls books, Grace is sent to live with her grandfather, the United States ambassador to Adria. Trouble-prone Grace causes an international incident on her very first day. Besides, everybody in Adria thinks she's crazy; Grace has spent the last three years insisting she saw her mother murdered by a gruesomely scarred man, though all the evidence says it was an accident. Grace doubts herself when she sees evidence of sinister doings in Adria: conspirators in the palace, secret tunnels and—worst of all—the Scarred Man walking Adria's corridors of power. Though some of the local kids try to help, Grace hates being surrounded by the competent and attractive multinational kids of Embassy Row while she's heavily medicated, prone to self-harm, and too pale and blonde to be pretty. Grace's adventure waffles among spy thriller, an examination of grief and an exploration of mental illness. It rockets wildly to and fro; the setup for the inevitable second volume doesn't follow even slightly naturally from the mystery's conclusion. Still, the mix-and-match bucket of tropes creates a not-entirely-infelicitous goofy whole: Hallucinations, mean girls and kidnappings abound.

Will appeal not only to psychological-thriller fans, but to those who want a little glamour, some A-list social politics and a bit of high school nastiness mixed in with their suspense . (Thriller. 12-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-65474-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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TRASH

In an unnamed country (a thinly veiled Philippines), three teenage boys pick trash for a meager living. A bag of cash in the trash might be—well, not their ticket out of poverty but at least a minor windfall. With 1,100 pesos, maybe they can eat chicken occasionally, instead of just rice. Gardo and Raphael are determined not to give any of it to the police who've been sniffing around, so they enlist their friend Rat. In alternating and tightly paced points of view, supplemented by occasional other voices, the boys relate the intrigue in which they're quickly enmeshed. A murdered houseboy, an orphaned girl, a treasure map, a secret code, corrupt politicians and 10,000,000 missing dollars: It all adds up to a cracker of a thriller. Sadly, the setting relies on Third World poverty tourism for its flavor, as if this otherwise enjoyable caper were being told by Olivia, the story's British charity worker who muses with vacuous sentimentality on the children that "break your heart" and "change your life." Nevertheless, a zippy and classic briefcase-full-of-money thrill ride. (Thriller. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-75214-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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