A YA novel that’s more didactic than entertaining.

READ REVIEW

Unsuitable for Adults Over 16 Years Old

This debut YA novel follows the exploits of an imaginary breed of creature called “Humirrels,” a cross between squirrels and humans that lives on a cloud in the middle of the sea.

The story mainly follows the adventures of two young Humirrels: Ishmael, who, like many preteen and teenage boys, is impulsive and occasionally thoughtless, and Eveowna, who is more mature and rather prim. The two go to school together and, after Ishmael finds a trap door to another land in his backyard, travel to a new land. Interspersed with these episodes are scenes of Ishmael at home, usually locking horns with his mother, who’s doing her best to raise him to be a good little Humirrel. Meanwhile, there are typical childhood occurrences—getting in trouble for talking out of turn during class, fighting with a close friend, tension between parent and child. Kids and adults would find the corresponding lessons more palatable if they were coated with a bit more plot as opposed to being presented as plainly as a plate of undressed kale. Although the title implies that the novel will be of interest to teens up to 16 years old, in both style and content it seems aimed at a much younger audience. Much of the novel concerns itself with imparting the kinds of life lessons and appropriate behaviors instilled in children: obey one’s elders; going to school is important; be considerate toward others’ feelings; etc. Also, the text needs to be cleaned up, since commas are rather sorely abused: “At least they didn’t have to swim any more, for a long while at least, they could just relax.” With a lively imagination, George has clearly put a lot of time and care into crafting the Humirrel breed—for instance, when Humirrels blush, “their foreheads go a weird purple colour”—but these details are frequently inserted almost at random and not integrated into the overall narrative.

A YA novel that’s more didactic than entertaining.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-1491802830

Page Count: 228

Publisher: AuthorHouseUK

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2014

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A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

ADORKABLE

In O’Gorman’s YA debut, two best friends try to fool people into thinking that they’re in love—and then discover a new facet of their relationship.

Sally Spitz is a frizzy-haired 17-year-old girl with a charming zeal for three things: Harry Potter (she’s a Gryffindor), Star Wars, and getting into Duke University. During her senior year of high school, she goes on a slew of miserable dates, set up by her mother and her own second-best–friend–turned-matchmaker, Lillian Hooker. Sally refuses to admit to anyone that she’s actually head over Converses in love with her longtime best friend, a boy named Baldwin Eugene Charles Kent, aka “Becks.” After a particularly awkward date, Sally devises a plan to end Lillian’s matchmaking attempts; specifically, she plans to hire someone to act as her fake boyfriend, or “F.B.F.” But before Sally can put her plan into action, a rumor circulates that Sally and Becks are already dating. Becks agrees to act as Sally’s F.B.F. in exchange for a box of Goobers and Sally’s doing his calculus homework for a month. Later, as they hold hands in the hall and “practice” make-out sessions in Becks’ bedroom, their friendship heads into unfamiliar territory. Over the course of this novel, O’Gorman presents an inviting and enjoyable account of lifelong friendship transforming into young love. Though the author’s reliance on familiar tropes may be comforting to a casual reader, it may frustrate those who may be looking for a more substantial and less predictable plot. A number of ancillary characters lack very much complexity, and the story, overall, would have benefited from an added twist or two. Even so, however, this remains a largely engaging and often endearing debut. 

A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-759-7

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

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Bulky, balky, talky.

THE DA VINCI CODE

In an updated quest for the Holy Grail, the narrative pace remains stuck in slo-mo.

But is the Grail, in fact, holy? Turns out that’s a matter of perspective. If you’re a member of that most secret of clandestine societies, the Priory of Sion, you think yes. But if your heart belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, the Grail is more than just unholy, it’s downright subversive and terrifying. At least, so the story goes in this latest of Brown’s exhaustively researched, underimagined treatise-thrillers (Deception Point, 2001, etc.). When Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon—in Paris to deliver a lecture—has his sleep interrupted at two a.m., it’s to discover that the police suspect he’s a murderer, the victim none other than Jacques Saumière, esteemed curator of the Louvre. The evidence against Langdon could hardly be sketchier, but the cops feel huge pressure to make an arrest. And besides, they don’t particularly like Americans. Aided by the murdered man’s granddaughter, Langdon flees the flics to trudge the Grail-path along with pretty, persuasive Sophie, who’s driven by her own need to find answers. The game now afoot amounts to a scavenger hunt for the scholarly, clues supplied by the late curator, whose intent was to enlighten Sophie and bedevil her enemies. It’s not all that easy to identify these enemies. Are they emissaries from the Vatican, bent on foiling the Grail-seekers? From Opus Dei, the wayward, deeply conservative Catholic offshoot bent on foiling everybody? Or any one of a number of freelancers bent on a multifaceted array of private agendas? For that matter, what exactly is the Priory of Sion? What does it have to do with Leonardo? With Mary Magdalene? With (gulp) Walt Disney? By the time Sophie and Langdon reach home base, everything—well, at least more than enough—has been revealed.

Bulky, balky, talky.

Pub Date: March 18, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50420-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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