This book teaches kids to spell “rock” with five Rs, and anyone who thinks that’s good advice will find it an excellent...

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ROCK GOD

THE LEGEND OF B.J. LEVINE

Here’s a quick test to find out if this is your kind of book: “You blokes just happen to be on tour with Terry the Wünder-Dwarf and the Pirates of Munchausen!”

B.J. Levine has a small, black book. It’s called The Legend of the Good Supreme, and it’s an instruction manual on becoming a “full-on, fire-breathing MEGALORD OF RRRRROCK.” Because this is rock and roll, the book is missing all but six pages. So it doesn’t tell B.J. he’s going to meet a dwarf or be chased by elderly bikers. It just tells him his first step: Start a band. The story makes as much sense as your average Queen song, and it’s just as much fun. The logic doesn’t always track, chapters jump from first to third person without warning and some sentences go right off the rails: “He screamed like a little girl. Or not exactly like a little girl—more like some sort of frightened monkey. Like a frightened, heavy metal–singing monkey who’d stepped on a rusty nail.” But no one knows what a pompatus of love is, either, and the Steve Miller Band managed just fine.

This book teaches kids to spell “rock” with five Rs, and anyone who thinks that’s good advice will find it an excellent instruction manual for life. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4022-5962-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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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

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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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