Shoots for the stars; doesn’t quite make it.

READ REVIEW

EIGHT DAYS ON PLANET EARTH

A white teenage boy must decide if the strange girl he’s falling for is an extraterrestrial in this sophomore effort by the author of The Leaving Season (2016).

Matty Jones’ life is upended when his alien-obsessed father suddenly abandons the family. His grief is tempered by the discovery of a brown-skinned, white-haired girl named Priya in the field behind his rural Pennsylvania home. The ground is rumored to be the site of a past UFO crash, and Priya claims she is an alien who will soon be catching a ride back to her planet. Matty is doubtful, but that doesn’t stop him from introducing Priya to all the wonders of Earth, including roller coasters, swimming, and, of course, sex. But he worries about Priya’s severe headaches, which she chalks up to gravity sickness. It takes some time (readers who know that Priya is a fairly common Indian name will be way ahead of him), but finally Matty is forced to confront the truth about both Priya’s situation and his feelings about his father. While Jordan’s predictable, Starman-esque story is executed in boilerplate prose (“Take your bullshit frustrations out on some other chump. Not me” and “That is not the tone to take with me this morning” are typical exchanges) the tragic, touching ending is memorable. Secondary characters Brian and Emily Aoki are Japanese-American siblings.

Shoots for the stars; doesn’t quite make it. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-257173-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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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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