Droll and diverting; fine characters to follow through time.


Goldfarb’s (The Last Tag, 2012, etc.) young-adult adventure takes time-traveling siblings from modern times to a murder mystery in 1930 Arizona.

Ryn and his little sister, Aeden, squander their summer vacation helping clean out their late great-Auntie Zanne’s house. The two find an old box, marked with their names, that contains prisms and cryptic notes. The prisms, if arranged a certain way, can bend time, which the siblings confirm by landing decades in the past. But they don’t arrive together—Aeden finds an ally, and Ryn is caught up with a gang. As Ryn searches for his sister, everyone else looks for gold, and some are willing to kill for it. Goldfarb’s novel ceaselessly regales, enriched by two resilient and charismatic main characters. Most chapters alternate between Ryn’s and Aeden’s first-person perspectives, a technique that prolongs the suspense as the siblings spend most of the story apart. Some chapters present points of view from characters introduced along the way, including a murderer who wants a payout in gold. The siblings’ relationship is initially belligerent as they grumble over chores, but it progressively matures. Their love and respect for each other is more apparent when they’re separated. The humor is modest but shrewd. Few understand Ryn’s name; one person believes it’s short for Rendell and another finds it easier to call him Rin Tin Tin. And the kids-out-of-time jokes never sidetrack the narrative; people mock Ryn both for his sneakers (“fancy-dancy New York shoes”) and because he suggests rubbing two pieces of wood to start a fire, not realizing that matches are readily available. Goldfarb smartly keeps the time traveling at a minimum to subvert any skepticism. Perhaps the author’s greatest feat is an effective multigenre approach of murder mystery, horror, sci-fi, and Ryn’s trekking via horseback even recalls a Western.

Droll and diverting; fine characters to follow through time.

Pub Date: April 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475084948

Page Count: 310

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2012

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Thrill-seekers will be absorbed by this exciting story.


The lives of two girls named Hannah, living in different centuries on different continents, intersect.

Eighteen-year-old Hannah Dory is an English peasant living a harsh existence in 1347. Hannah Doe is a resident of Belman Psychiatric Hospital in 2023 New York City, brought in after being found on the street experiencing hallucinations and screaming something about a castle. Modern-day Hannah periodically enters a catatonic state, something the staff refer to as her “going to the castle.” Columbia psychology student Jordan Hassan is a new intern at Belman, and his interest is piqued by this girl no one knows much about. He decides to play detective and try to discover her history himself. Meanwhile, in the medieval England storyline, Hannah Dory tries to save her village from starvation by sneaking into the baron’s castle but finds herself swept up in a fight between the new baron and his rival. The book sustains a breakneck pace with short chapters and many cliffhangers that will keep readers’ interest. Patterson’s author’s note includes a list of mental health resources and describes his experience of working as an aide in a psychiatric hospital when he was a teenager. The narrative thoughtfully centers mental illness and touches on complex topics like suicide. Whiteness is the default; Jordan is cued as Muslim.

Thrill-seekers will be absorbed by this exciting story. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-41172-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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When Death tells a story, you pay attention. Liesel Meminger is a young girl growing up outside of Munich in Nazi Germany, and Death tells her story as “an attempt—a flying jump of an attempt—to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.” When her foster father helps her learn to read and she discovers the power of words, Liesel begins stealing books from Nazi book burnings and the mayor’s wife’s library. As she becomes a better reader, she becomes a writer, writing a book about her life in such a miserable time. Liesel’s experiences move Death to say, “I am haunted by humans.” How could the human race be “so ugly and so glorious” at the same time? This big, expansive novel is a leisurely working out of fate, of seemingly chance encounters and events that ultimately touch, like dominoes as they collide. The writing is elegant, philosophical and moving. Even at its length, it’s a work to read slowly and savor. Beautiful and important. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83100-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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