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

READ REVIEW

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE CITY OF EMBER

This promising debut is set in a dying underground city. Ember, which was founded and stocked with supplies centuries ago by “The Builders,” is now desperately short of food, clothes, and electricity to keep the town illuminated. Lina and Doon find long-hidden, undecipherable instructions that send them on a perilous mission to find what they believe must exist: an exit door from their disintegrating town. In the process, they uncover secret governmental corruption and a route to the world above. Well-paced, this contains a satisfying mystery, a breathtaking escape over rooftops in darkness, a harrowing journey into the unknown and cryptic messages for readers to decipher. The setting is well-realized with the constraints of life in the city intriguingly detailed. The likable protagonists are not only courageous but also believably flawed by human pride, their weaknesses often complementing each other in interesting ways. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers clamoring for the next installment. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: May 27, 2003

ISBN: 0-375-82273-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

CRENSHAW

Applegate tackles homelessness in her first novel since 2013 Newbery winner The One and Only Ivan.

Hunger is a constant for soon-to-be fifth-grader Jackson and his family, and the accompanying dizziness may be why his imaginary friend is back. A giant cat named Crenshaw first appeared after Jackson finished first grade, when his parents moved the family into their minivan for several months. Now they’re facing eviction again, and Jackson’s afraid that he won’t be going to school next year with his friend Marisol. When Crenshaw shows up on a surfboard, Jackson, an aspiring scientist who likes facts, wonders whether Crenshaw is real or a figment of his imagination. Jackson’s first-person narrative moves from the present day, when he wishes that his parents understood that he’s old enough to hear the truth about the family’s finances, to the first time they were homeless and back to the present. The structure allows readers access to the slow buildup of Jackson’s panic and his need for a friend and stability in his life. Crenshaw tells Jackson that “Imaginary friends don’t come of their own volition. We are invited. We stay as long as we’re needed.” The cat’s voice, with its adult tone, is the conduit for the novel’s lessons: “You need to tell the truth, my friend….To the person who matters most of all.”

Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is nevertheless a somberly affecting one . (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-04323-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more