Entertaining, but confused about its point of view.

READ REVIEW

COLIN FISCHER

The subgenre combining sleuthing with characters who have Asperger syndrome gets a new entry offering humor and interesting historical and scientific connections—but the narrative viewpoint drifts unsettlingly.

Colin begins high school with a cheat sheet to decipher facial expressions, but he no longer uses a “shadow,” an adult to help him navigate the social landscape. The hallway’s crowded (Colin hates touch); the bathroom sign is blue (a color he dislikes); and Wayne (who’s been bullying him for years) dunks his head in the toilet. As the plot unfolds—bullying, Colin’s arithmetical approach to basketball, birthday cake and a real gun going off in the cafeteria—Colin tracks everything in his notebook (facts only). Many entries end with this plan: “Investigate.” As a sleuth, Colin’s sharply observant, his discoveries impressive. The gun mystery doesn’t frighten him: “Wayne Connelly is innocent, and I will prove it. The game is afoot.” Disconcertingly, the narrative voice conveys some of Colin’s thoughts but also some of his parents’ and Wayne’s; sometimes it aligns itself with Colin’s perspective, sometimes it describes him from the outside (“her irony as lost on Colin as it usually was”). Omniscience is one thing, authorial convenience another. This mobile narrative allegiance makes it hard to pinpoint whether the Asperger humor is from Colin or about him.

Entertaining, but confused about its point of view. (Fiction. 11-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59514-578-9

Page Count: 226

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.

A MAP OF DAYS

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Slow off the mark and gratuitously violent but cooking with (nerve) gas by the end.

THE TRIGGER MECHANISM

From the Camp Valor series , Vol. 2

With help from a reclusive billionaire, teen supersoldiers tackle a cyberterrorist in this sequel to Camp Valor (2018).

The main suspense comes from wondering when the chases and firefights are finally going to start. Traumatized by the discovery that he’s been duped into mowing down a crowd of real pedestrians in what he thought was a virtual truck, online gamer Jalen Rose is recruited by Valorian agent and co-protagonist Wyatt to join him in an unauthorized mission to find the instigator, Encyte. There are suspects aplenty. Their patron, tech tycoon John Darsie, points them toward one possibility: his own employee Julie Chen, a brilliant (not to mention “tough and a little boyish, but cute”) 14-year-old gamer and software designer. Despite a series of cyber exploits, including a high-casualty riot fueled by pheromones, there are so many distracting subplots—notably the hunt for a traitor from the first volume, the arrival of a government official who orders the camp shut down because she can’t see the value of a cadre of secretly trained child warriors (go figure), and a developing relationship between Jalen and Julie—that the pedal doesn’t really hit the metal until some time after the real villain makes a tardy first entrance. Jalen is African American and Wyatt is white.

Slow off the mark and gratuitously violent but cooking with (nerve) gas by the end. (Paramilitary thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-08825-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more