With flash, spectacle, and tough character choices, an all-around, full-throttle read.

TRAILBLAZER

From the TURBO Racers series , Vol. 1

A 12-year-old gets a shot at glory in a high-tech, motorized extreme triathlon—but everything has its price.

When not tinkering with mechanical engineering projects, Mace Blazer lights up the leaderboards in TURBO arcade simulations. In TURBO races, vehicles morph among land, sea, and sky forms for various legs of the complicated, wild races. After finding out about a traveling exhibit with a restored, legendary, crashed-too-soon first-generation trimorpher called Event Horizon—just in time to miss it—Mace takes a risk to see the craft in person. The unintended consequences (which include a police chase) lead Mace to Event Horizon’s legendary, mysterious pilot, Quasar, who invites him and three other top simulation performers for a summer of training. Quasar promises entrance in the Gauntlet Prix to the best of them. Coloradan Mace (default white and fluent in ASL due to growing up with Deaf parents) is joined by Japanese-American Aya, Dex from the Dominican Republic, and white Norwegian Henryk. They must compete against one another in the face of elimination and dismissal as the legendary racer teaches them to do anything to win. Mace must decide if he should do it Quasar’s way or play it honest—either alternative holds heavy consequences—and discovers that TURBO’s future depends on his decisions. Intense, impeccably paced, bonkers-awesome international race sequences provide clarity without sacrificing tension or becoming repetitive—and, more importantly, compensate for the formulaic setup.

With flash, spectacle, and tough character choices, an all-around, full-throttle read. (Science fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-274103-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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An intense referendum on football’s dangers and glories.

FINAL SEASON

A star 12-year-old quarterback has a championship to win, a developing family tragedy to cope with, and a life-changing decision to make.

Barely disguising the autobiographical elements contained here in the wake of his own diagnosis of ALS, former Atlanta Falcons player Green places his protagonist, Ben Redd, in a football family and on an upstate New York team coached by his dad and two older brothers—all former gridiron stars themselves. Ben’s anticipation as he looks forward to a season that will be capped by a game against archrival Penn Yan battles with his terror as he watches his father’s NFL injuries come home to roost in slurred speech, loss of physical coordination, and, eventually, a frantic trip to the hospital for an emergency tracheotomy. But as Ben’s parents, both iron willed, clash over whether he should be allowed to follow the family career path (and one of his brothers even announces that none of his kids will ever play), the sport’s allure comes through in a series of exciting clashes, with Ben and wonderfully hard-nosed new teammate, Thea Jean, leading the on-field heroics on the way to a last-yard, smash-mouth finale that leaves him dazed and exultant, with a broken finger, a probable concussion…and a choice of futures. Though the cast is mostly male and mostly White, between them, Thea and Ben’s mom add strong female representation.

An intense referendum on football’s dangers and glories. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-248595-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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