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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THE LIGHTNING THIEF

From the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series , Vol. 1

Edgar Award–winning Riordan leaves the adult world of mystery to begin a fantasy series for younger readers. Twelve-year-old Percy (full name, Perseus) Jackson has attended six schools in six years. Officially diagnosed with ADHD, his lack of self-control gets him in trouble again and again. What if it isn’t his fault? What if all the outrageous incidents that get him kicked out of school are the result of his being a “half-blood,” the product of a relationship between a human and a Greek god? Could it be true that his math teacher Mrs. Dodds transformed into a shriveled hag with bat wings, a Fury, and was trying to kill him? Did he really vanquish her with a pen that turned into a sword? One need not be an expert in Greek mythology to enjoy Percy’s journey to retrieve Zeus’s master bolt from the Underworld, but those who are familiar with the deities and demi-gods will have many an ah-ha moment. Along the way, Percy and his cohort run into Medusa, Cerberus and Pan, among others. The sardonic tone of the narrator’s voice lends a refreshing air of realism to this riotously paced quest tale of heroism that questions the realities of our world, family, friendship and loyalty. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7868-5629-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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The satisfyingly cataclysmic showdowns yield to peaceful resolution at last; here's hoping it holds this time.

THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS

From the Heroes of Olympus series , Vol. 5

With just 12 days to go until Gaea awakens fully on Aug. 1 and brings an end to the world as we know it, two groups of demigods struggle to stop her.

Aboard the Argo II, Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Frank, Hazel and Leo race to Athens for the final showdown. Meanwhile, three formerly supporting characters struggle to haul the ancient and massive Athena Parthenos statue from Europe to Camp Half-Blood: son of Hades Nico di Angelo, daughter of Bellona Reyna Ramírez-Arellano (and former praetor at New Rome) and satyr Coach Hedge. Coach Hedge is there mostly for comic relief, but his anxiety for the welfare of his very pregnant wood-nymph wife at Camp Half-Blood, where rogue New Rome augur Octavian has massed his armies to attack on Aug. 1, is touchingly genuine. The story of the demigods headed to Athens focuses on Jason, Piper and Leo and offers what Riordan does best: comedic, action-packed encounters with deities most readers—and sometimes characters—have never heard of. Goddess of victory Nike is particularly funny as she rails against "namby-pamby ideas of friendship and everybody wins participation awards." The story's emotional heft mostly comes from Nico's and Reyna's arduous and heartfelt journeys to self-acceptance. Readers who haven't made a point of revisiting The House of Hades (2013) before starting this may find themselves wondering just why each group's mission is so important, but there's no questioning that the characters think they're vital. And ultimately, any prophecy-driven adventure is at bottom arbitrary anyway. The story's occasional ventures into romance are stilted and awkward, but fortunately they are brief.

The satisfyingly cataclysmic showdowns yield to peaceful resolution at last; here's hoping it holds this time. (Fantasy. 10-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-4673-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2014

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