A modern American success story, neither overly earnest nor unreservedly adulatory.



Vance slims down his 2015 portrait of an entrepreneur who has made and spent several eye-watering fortunes on the way to restarting our country’s space program and possibly revolutionizing the auto industry.

In Vance’s view, Musk, afflicted with that vision thing, has always had his eyes on the prize—not of making bazillions but of providing humanity with the means to move beyond our confinement on a single, fragile planet. He has made bazillions nonetheless. Noting the big payoffs as well as his propensity to follow up compelling promises with scandalously late delivery dates, Vance takes readers through his booms and busts with several enterprises—notably PayPal, Tesla Motors, SolarCity, and what has the potential to shape up to be his grandest triumph of all, SpaceX. Along with views of youth and early geekdom (“It’s remarkable how many things you can get to explode,” Musk recalls), he relates suspenseful accounts of technical and financial crises, conducts tours of Musk’s factories (which are, pointedly, all in the U.S.), and brings his story up to early 2016. Overall, the author offers a picture of a brilliant, driven man: “He almost hypnotizes you,” says an associate. “He gives you the crazy eye, and it’s like, yes, we can get to Mars.” Illustrated with small, rare, dispensable photos.

A modern American success story, neither overly earnest nor unreservedly adulatory. (timeline) (Biography. 11-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-246328-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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Eighth grader Samantha has all the latest technological gadgets, thanks to her parents’ jobs at an electronics company. When a chance encounter with an eerie crystal in the woods mysteriously merges Sam with her innovative new cell phone, it leads to newfound abilities. Sam discovers she can access all of her phone’s technology literally with a blink of an eye. Suddenly, Sam has phone service via her palm, photographic and video capabilities through her eyes and more. However, when she reluctantly starts intercepting 911 calls, Sam garners unwanted attention from some menacing strangers. Townsend creates a believable character caught in extraordinary circumstances: Sam’s practicality and typical teen behavior—all she really wants is to have a date with her crush, Trevor—ground this fantastical tale. After a slow start, the story builds suspense with the addition of a corrupt congressman and a hint of corporate and international espionage as Sam uncovers a dangerous plot. While the denouement occurs rather abruptly, it does leave room for a sequel. Readers are bound to be intrigued by this new action heroine. (Science fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4022-4042-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2010

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Readers who put aside the sense that they are being primed for products and just imagine the movie it ought to be may find...


From the Waterfire Saga series , Vol. 1

The award-winning author teams up with Disney to deliver a book seemingly tailor-made for commercial success.

Imagine an undersea world populated by mers of every type: Blond, blue-tailed seafolk exist, but the variety described goes far behind that stereotype; some are crab-legged or stranger. It’s a complex world, created magically as Atlantis fell. Now, the evil behind the fall threatens again, and this time it’s teamed up with a terragogg (human) bent on destroying ecosystems. Six mermaids have been summoned in dreams to save a world suddenly under attack. Exposition-heavy descriptions of a sometimes-nonsensical society (dresses and other human accoutrements that can’t possibly enhance undersea life are described in downright cinematic detail, and mer-derived slang—for example, “merlfriend”—comes across as forced) dominate the beginning. They eventually give way to a plot-driven tale of prophesied saviors getting to know each other and preparing for an epic battle (and several more volumes). The merls have little to no personality (protagonist Serafina somewhat excepted), but then, this book is aimed at upper-preteen/early-teen readers who might enjoy finding themselves in the text. The diversity of the cast (white, black, Asian and Indian are all represented among the chosen) deserves some props.

Readers who put aside the sense that they are being primed for products and just imagine the movie it ought to be may find it palatable enough. (Fantasy. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3316-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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