Excellent characterization and a touching friendship mark this appealing Australian thriller. Thirteen-year-old Jackson and his widowed mother, Valerie, have moved to the suburbs to escape Valerie’s scary former boss. Ever since Valerie spotted drugs at the casino where she sang, she’s lived in fear. Jackson copes with the anxiety by obsessing about numbers. His narrative chapters alternate with those of Esmeralda, his new neighbor and romantic interest, an aspiring singer. Another neighbor and classmate, Asim, a Kurdish refugee, shares a moving friendship with Jackson of a kind rarely portrayed between boys in teen books. Both kind-hearted, they empathize with each other’s troubles and delight in similar interests. They also share a dangerous adventure when the casino boss sends a thug to intimidate Valerie. Music plays a major role throughout, from Esmeralda’s considerable talent to Valerie’s sometimes tedious riffs on rock history. The local bully and Asim, too coincidentally, are also talented musicians. Although Jackson and Esmeralda’s voices are often indistinguishable, they effectively pull the reader into their lives. The suspense builds toward a gripping climax, followed by a gratifying rock-and-roll wrap-up. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8027-9660-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2007

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From the Twilight series , Vol. 2

All is not well between demon-magnet Bella and Edward Cullen, her vampire Romeo. An innocent papercut at Edward’s house puts Bella in grave danger when various members of the Cullen family can barely resist their hunger at the smell of blood. The Cullens promptly leave town, afraid of endangering Edward’s beloved, and Bella sinks into an overwhelming depression. Months later, she finally emerges from her funk to rebuild her life, focusing on her friendship with besotted teen Jacob from the reservation. Bella’s unhealthy enthrallment to Edward leads her into dangerous and self-destructive behavior despite her new friends, and supernatural complications are bound to reappear. Bella’s being hunted by an evil vampire, and Jacob’s adolescent male rage turns out to be incipient lycanthropy: It seems many Quileute Indians become werewolves in the presence of vampires, their natural enemies. Psychic miscommunications and angst-ridden dramatic gestures lead to an exciting page-turner of a conclusion drenched in the best of Gothic romantic excess. Despite Bella’s flat and obsessive personality, this tale of tortured demon lovers entices. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-316-16019-9

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Megan Tingley/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2006

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This breathless political thriller isn't always coherent, but it keeps the adrenaline pumping


Two teens framed as terrorists need to save England from a terrorist attack and political takeover.

Charlie and Nat have been on the run since they were tricked into aiding a kidnapping and bombing (In a Split Second, 2015). Charlie, furious after the attack that killed her mother and left Nat's older brother in a coma, tried to do good by training as a soldier for the vigilante English Freedom Army. Nat and Charlie were told the EFA existed to fight terrorists like the racist League of Iron, but it turns out they were terrorists, fomenting chaos to support the political aspirations of charismatic politician Roman Riley. Now the teens, distracted by both their romance and Charlie's family secrets, must stop Riley from creating a far worse atrocity. Their single-minded focus on each other even as they learn of potentially horrific casualties can be read as either romantic or utterly lacking in empathy, but at least they prioritize the mission. Chapters that alternate their perspectives, most only about three pages, maintain endless urgency in the style of the television series 24. Though some lulls might have improved the flow, the nonstop action distracts from plot holes and flat secondary characters. U.S. readers may be bemused at the U.K. revolutionaries’ discussions of bombings but shock at the use of guns.

This breathless political thriller isn't always coherent, but it keeps the adrenaline pumping . (Thriller. 13-15)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3926-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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