By turns touching and pulse-pounding, this conclusion will leave fans fully satisfied.

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ISLAND OF DOOM

From the Hunchback Assignments series , Vol. 4

Modo is back for one last adventure.

Horrendously ugly, but superhumanly strong and able to change his face and form briefly, Modo has been a valuable agent of the Permanent Association, a secret group dedicated to protecting Britannia. But three months after The Empire of Ruins (2011), he has been effectively suspended from duty for disobeying Mr. Socrates, the man who has raised but never parented Modo. When French teen agent Colette (The Dark Deeps, 2010) contacts Modo, he and Octavia, along with Mr. Socrates and Tharpa, are drawn back into conflict with the wicked Clockwork Guild, which seeks to bring down the British Empire and everyone else as well. The Guild has continued to advance, with resurrected creatures made from dead bodies (think Frankenstein's monster); meanwhile, the Association has powerful steam-powered, armor-clad soldiers of their own, who were once the children harnessed by the Guild to bring down Parliament (The Hunchback Assignments, 2009). Adding to the drama, Modo’s parents may be alive, and Colette and Octavia vie for his attention despite his true, awful face. Beneath the action runs the question of “who am I”; while the answer may prove elusive, this final showdown helps Modo face the question and begin to answer it for himself.

By turns touching and pulse-pounding, this conclusion will leave fans fully satisfied. (Steampunk. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-73787-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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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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Awful on a number of levels—but tidily over at last.

THE STARS BELOW

From the Vega Jane series , Vol. 4

The rebellion against an evil archmage and his bowler-topped minions wends its way to a climax.

Dispatching five baddies on the first two pages alone, wand-waving villain-exterminator Vega Jane gathers a motley army of fellow magicals, ghosts, and muggles—sorry, “Wugmorts”—for a final assault on Necro and his natty Maladons. As Necro repeatedly proves to be both smarter and more powerful than Vega Jane, things generally go badly for the rebels, who end up losing their hidden refuge, many of their best fighters, and even the final battle. Baldacci is plainly up on his ancient Greek theatrical conventions, however; just as all hope is lost, a divinity literally descends from the ceiling to referee a winner-take-all duel, and thanks to an earlier ritual that (she and readers learn) gives her a do-over if she’s killed (a second deus ex machina!), Vega Jane comes away with a win…not to mention an engagement ring to go with the magic one that makes her invisible and a new dog, just like the one that died heroically. Measuring up to the plot’s low bar, the narrative too reads like low-grade fanfic, being laden with references to past events, characters who only supposedly died, and such lines as “a spurt of blood shot out from my forehead,” “they started falling at a rapid number,” and “[h]is statement struck me on a number of levels.”

Awful on a number of levels—but tidily over at last. (glossary) (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-26393-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

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