At times riotous, often nostalgic and always entertaining.

Greyson Gray: Camp Legend

In Tweedt’s debut YA thriller, armed baddies working a fiendish plot at a summer camp don’t count on a plucky young boy and his pals.

Greyson arrives at Morris College All-Sports Camp determined to make the best of it. But when a brutish cafeteria worker, believing the boy has overheard critical information, physically threatens him, Greyson takes it upon himself to expose whatever scheme the man felt necessary to protect. He enlists the help of his friends and sneaks into the observatory, the apparent command center for a cluster of scoundrels. Tweedt’s novel has all the prerequisites for a summer-camp story: Brandon, the sympathetic counselor; Trevor and Tucker, the interchangeable jerks looking to knock Greyson down during lunch or on the football field; and Sydney, the love interest. Also joining Greyson are the friends he makes along the way, including Liam, the stuttering shy one; Patrick, who seems to hate everything; and twins Jarryd and Nick, whose loyalty is rounded out by ready-to-fire wisecracks. A number of memorable touches supplement the camp setting, like campers sneaking out past bedtime and counselors telling ghost stories, but the most notable is the relentless summer heat—lots of sweating, complaints, and looking forward to showers and air conditioning. In the book’s final act, which takes up nearly a third of the story, Greyson, Sydney and their fellow campers set out to thwart the villains’ plan, which involves a potentially deadly explosion. The series of primed set pieces never lets up until the end. Choosing a favorite character may be difficult, but it’s Jarryd who nearly steals the show, if for nothing else than his stoicism: After taking Greyson’s syrupy pancake to the face for referencing Sydney’s backside, Jarryd coolly asserts, “I respect that.” But in the end, it’s the titular hero who’s most admirable; rather than holster his gun, he stores everything he needs in a fanny pack—and anyone who can make a fanny pack look cool is definitely worth rooting for.

At times riotous, often nostalgic and always entertaining.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-1480236462

Page Count: 296

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2013

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Sensitive subject matter that could have benefited from a subtler, more sober touch.

RESISTANCE

A Jewish girl joins up with Polish resistance groups to fight for her people against the evils of the Holocaust.

Chaya Lindner is forcibly separated from her family when they are consigned to the Jewish ghetto in Krakow. The 16-year-old is taken in by the leaders of Akiva, a fledgling Jewish resistance group that offers her the opportunity to become a courier, using her fair coloring to pass for Polish and sneak into ghettos to smuggle in supplies and information. Chaya’s missions quickly become more dangerous, taking her on a perilous journey from a disastrous mission in Krakow to the ghastly ghetto of Lodz and eventually to Warsaw to aid the Jews there in their gathering uprising inside the walls of the ghetto. Through it all, she is partnered with a secretive young girl whom she is reluctant to trust. The trajectory of the narrative skews toward the sensational, highlighting moments of resistance via cinematic action sequences but not pausing to linger on the emotional toll of the Holocaust’s atrocities. Younger readers without sufficient historical knowledge may not appreciate the gravity of the events depicted. The principal characters lack depth, and their actions and the situations they find themselves in often require too much suspension of disbelief to pass for realism.

Sensitive subject matter that could have benefited from a subtler, more sober touch. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-14847-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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THE LAST BOOK IN THE UNIVERSE

In this riveting futuristic novel, Spaz, a teenage boy with epilepsy, makes a dangerous journey in the company of an old man and a young boy. The old man, Ryter, one of the few people remaining who can read and write, has dedicated his life to recording stories. Ryter feels a kinship with Spaz, who unlike his contemporaries has a strong memory; because of his epilepsy, Spaz cannot use the mind probes that deliver entertainment straight to the brain and rot it in the process. Nearly everyone around him uses probes to escape their life of ruin and poverty, the result of an earthquake that devastated the world decades earlier. Only the “proovs,” genetically improved people, have grass, trees, and blue skies in their aptly named Eden, inaccessible to the “normals” in the Urb. When Spaz sets out to reach his dying younger sister, he and his companions must cross three treacherous zones ruled by powerful bosses. Moving from one peril to the next, they survive only with help from a proov woman. Enriched by Ryter’s allusions to nearly lost literature and full of intriguing, invented slang, the skillful writing paints two pictures of what the world could look like in the future—the burned-out Urb and the pristine Eden—then shows the limits and strengths of each. Philbrick, author of Freak the Mighty (1993) has again created a compelling set of characters that engage the reader with their courage and kindness in a painful world that offers hope, if no happy endings. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-439-08758-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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