Thrills, action, and the moral certainty of fighting Nazis drive this thriller.

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THE DARKEST HOUR

A girl spy in Nazi-occupied France contends with a dastardly Nazi plot as well as treason within the Allied ranks.

Sixteen-year-old Lucie, heartbroken at her beloved brother's death in action, sneaks away from home to join the Women's Army Corps. The French-speaking, white Baltimore native is promptly (if implausibly) recruited into Covert Ops, an all-female espionage division. Though tops in her class during training, Lucie struggles in the field, where the job of killing her targets after extracting all necessary information makes her too squeamish to excel. Perhaps she can please her irritable commander with her few extracted rumors of the dreadful and mysterious Operation Zerfall. Before Lucie learns anything further, Covert Ops dissolves into chaos. Despite her junior status, Lucie's sent to interrogate a defecting Nazi—about Operation Zerfall. A cinematic combat sequence later (evoking more Kill Bill than another girl-spies-in-occupied-France novel, Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity, 2012), and Lucie has all the information Covert Ops needs. But trusting the wrong person drags Lucie into a dire situation that could turn the tide of the war for Germany. Characterization is thin, but secondary characters of color provide authentic diversity. The drama builds through interrogations, explosions, shoe daggers, and Nazi mad science; the entertaining, historically genuine (though often inaccurately depicted) James Bond gadgets and weapons keep pages turning.

Thrills, action, and the moral certainty of fighting Nazis drive this thriller. (Historical thriller. 12-14)

Pub Date: July 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-80127-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.

A MAP OF DAYS

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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