Butler revives the moribund with her fresh take on aliens, vampires, and the undead.

Wrong Side of the Grave

An alien who feeds on vampires is stumped when the recently dead in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, are apparently no longer dead in Butler’s (Book of the Lost, 2013, etc.) YA supernatural thriller.

Eric Jansen is just your typical teenager and drummer for a rock band. Except, when not in human form, he’s a red-eyed, centuries-old alien who has spurred the local Mothman legend. His food source on Earth is vampires, allowing him to work in cooperation with a secret government agency. But he becomes the men in black’s first suspect when bodies at the funeral home start sitting up, walking, and talking. He and his human bestie, Bridget, initiate their own investigation, while the city folk crowd the cemetery, convinced that subterranean loved ones will soon awaken. Eric, however, fears that someone may be on to him when Bridget suddenly disappears. This entertaining novel navigates well-trod ground with style. The vampires, for instance, seem like typical bloodsuckers but are actually aliens that Eric’s kind has followed to Earth. Both Eric and Bridget are cynical but charmingly so, and endless alien-related puns never get old, like Eric’s suggestion that “people who live in invisible spaceships shouldn’t throw stones.” Along with a grand plot and vibrant characters, including the enigmatic Agent Hisato Ikeda, who Eric thinks might be an alien, Butler delivers a notable mystery/thriller. Dramatic tension is wielded expertly; Eric and Bridget, for example, distrust a funeral director and news reporter, who may have their own agendas. Butler dabbles into Eric’s background but doesn’t overdo the flashbacks. The same is true for aliens in general; readers only glimpse the interior of Eric’s concealed spacecraft (and hear what can only be presumed is alien profanity: “Slux!”). Romance between Eric and Bridget is wonderfully understated, as everyone but the couple appears to recognize that they’re more than just friends. Limitless possibilities to explore their relationship, as well as a lingering unconquered foe, give the next book of the proposed series a smashing head start.

Butler revives the moribund with her fresh take on aliens, vampires, and the undead.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1507898079

Page Count: 264

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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It’s slanted toward action-oriented readers, who will find that Briticisms meld with all the other wonders of magic school.

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE

From the Harry Potter series , Vol. 1

In a rousing first novel, already an award-winner in England, Harry is just a baby when his magical parents are done in by Voldemort, a wizard so dastardly other wizards are scared to mention his name.

So Harry is brought up by his mean Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia Dursley, and picked on by his horrid cousin Dudley. He knows nothing about his magical birthright until ten years later, when he learns he’s to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Hogwarts is a lot like English boarding school, except that instead of classes in math and grammar, the curriculum features courses in Transfiguration, Herbology, and Defense Against the Dark Arts. Harry becomes the star player of Quidditch, a sort of mid-air ball game. With the help of his new friends Ron and Hermione, Harry solves a mystery involving a sorcerer’s stone that ultimately takes him to the evil Voldemort. This hugely enjoyable fantasy is filled with imaginative details, from oddly flavored jelly beans to dragons’ eggs hatched on the hearth.

It’s slanted toward action-oriented readers, who will find that Briticisms meld with all the other wonders of magic school. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-590-35340-3

Page Count: 309

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1998

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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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