POINT BLANK

Fasten your seat belts for the second installment in Anthony Horowitz’s spy-thriller series starring 14-year-old British schoolboy and ace agent from MI6, Alex Rider. James Bond has nothing on this crafty kid, and it’s lucky Alex is on the job. It seems that mad scientists still infest the planet and still want to rule the world. When readers first met Alex in Stormbreaker (2001), MI6 had sent him to spy school. This time they send him to an exclusive school for the recalcitrant sons of the super-rich. Disguised as the son of a British supermarket magnate, Alex learns that something extraordinarily odd is going on at the school. Yes indeed, the school’s owner, the creepy South African apartheid supporter Dr. Grief, intends to take over the world by controlling his wealthy students. But who are his students? Is Dr. Grief using brainwashing, fear, or something more sinister on the boys? Can Alex escape from the fortress-like school before that sinister something happens to him? Horowitz devises a string of miraculous circumstances that keeps Alex alive and spying throughout. Spy thrillers appear too seldom in YA literature. With plenty of cliffhanger action, the Alex Rider adventures might help get young readers hooked. The unabashed fantasy imitates the James Bond movies more closely than the books, but it’s all plenty of fun. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-23621-X

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2002

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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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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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