Lots of fun for the right audience.

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KILLER STRANGELETS

From the Arctic6 Adventures series , Vol. 1

Six British kids save the world in this suspenseful, comic romp through Switzerland’s famed CERN laboratories.

Iago leads a pack of diverse and talented kids in his attempt to save the world from annihilation by a mad scientist, Katarina Kreng, an over-the-top villain who intends to create a black hole that will swallow the Earth. She’ll use subatomic particles called killer strangelets in the CERN Large Hadron Collider, where Iago’s Uncle Jonas works, to accomplish her dastardly deed. The group of young heroes hops a private plane to Switzerland and plots their attack using schematic drawings stolen from Uncle Jonas. While one wields his hacking skills to open doors and dig up information, Iago and his secret heartthrob Charlie, his pretty female friend, try to infiltrate the facility. Suspense ensues when they succeed. Furlong keeps the narrative brisk and full of light humor, although the preposterous tale remains a bit of a jumble. The kids appear to be middle-school age, and that seems to be the book’s natural audience, although some older readers may enjoy it. Reminiscent of the Alex Rider series for a younger set, this appears headed toward James Bond–style mayhem but with as much an emphasis on comedy as on suspense.

Lots of fun for the right audience. (Comic suspense. 9-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-9562315-6-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Inside Pocket

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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I AM NUMBER FOUR

From the Lorien Legacies series , Vol. 1

If it were a Golden Age comic, this tale of ridiculous science, space dogs and humanoid aliens with flashlights in their hands might not be bad. Alas... Number Four is a fugitive from the planet Lorien, which is sloppily described as both "hundreds of lightyears away" and "billions of miles away." Along with eight other children and their caretakers, Number Four escaped from the Mogadorian invasion of Lorien ten years ago. Now the nine children are scattered on Earth, hiding. Luckily and fairly nonsensically, the planet's Elders cast a charm on them so they could only be killed in numerical order, but children one through three are dead, and Number Four is next. Too bad he's finally gained a friend and a girlfriend and doesn't want to run. At least his newly developing alien powers means there will be screen-ready combat and explosions. Perhaps most idiotic, "author" Pittacus Lore is a character in this fiction—but the first-person narrator is someone else entirely. Maybe this is a natural extension of lightly hidden actual author James Frey's drive to fictionalize his life, but literature it ain't. (Science fiction. 11-13)

     

 

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-196955-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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