With giant firestorms, rampaging hoards and continual life-and-death scenarios, though, Higson delivers an action-packed...

THE DEAD

When all adults turn into zombies, kids must fend for themselves.

Before London was filled with shambling husks craving fresh meat, there was an Internet video of a scared boy ranting about adults killing children. Months later, both video and Internet have disappeared. After constant battles with ravening adults, 15-year-olds Jack and Ed rescue the trapped Frédérique and break out of their barricaded school to find food and stronger shelter. Despite a misadventure with a cannibalistic bus driver, the youths arrive at the Imperial War Museum only to discover others have claimed the space. When London starts to burn again, they all must work together to flee the coming firestorm. Higson delivers this prequel to The Enemy (2010) in similar style, with multiple narrators allowing for even more action than the first offering. While most of these threads lack strong emotional resonance, Frédérique’s narrative harrows, as she descends into madness when infection overtakes her. Jack and Ed have a good rapport, too, though there’s a bit too much sentimentality toward the end. Gun combat takes precedence over melee here, a choice that makes sense given the protagonists’ ages and the setting, though it tends to break the action more than the fisticuffs that dominated the first work.

With giant firestorms, rampaging hoards and continual life-and-death scenarios, though, Higson delivers an action-packed summer read. (Horror. 13-16)

Pub Date: June 14, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3412-1

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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A purple page turner.

CLOCKWORK PRINCE

From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Clockwork Angel (2010) pits gorgeous, attractively broken teens against a menacing evil.

There's betrayal, mayhem and clockwork monstrosities, and the Shadowhunters have only two weeks to discover—oh, who are we kidding? The plot is only surprisingly tasty icing on this cupcake of a melodramatic love triangle. Our heroes are Tessa, who may or may not be a warlock, and the beautiful Shadowhunter warrior boys who are moths to her forbidden flame. It's not always clear why Tessa prefers Will to his beloved (and only) friend Jem, the dying, silver-eyed, biracial sweetheart with the face of an angel. Jem, after all, is gentle and kind, her dearest confidante; Will is unpleasant to everyone around him. But poor, wretched Will—who "would have been pretty if he had not been so tall and so muscular"—has a deep, dark, thoroughly emo secret. His trauma puts all previous romantic difficulties to shame, from the Capulet/Montague feud all the way to Edward Cullen's desire to chomp on Bella Swan. Somehow there's room for an interesting steampunk mystery amid all this angst. The supporting characters (unusually well-developed for a love-triangle romance) include multiple compelling young women who show strength in myriad ways. So what if there are anachronisms, character inconsistencies and weird tonal slips? There's too much overwrought fun to care.

A purple page turner. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7588-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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Fans of the familiar will find this an unchallenging goth-and-glitter pleasure

CITY OF LOST SOULS

From the Mortal Instruments series , Vol. 5

What with the race to save Jace from the new Big Bad, wonderful secondary characters get short shrift.

Clary's long-lost brother Sebastian, raised to be an evil overlord by their father (and Jace's foster father), has kidnapped Jace. While the many young (or young-appearing) protagonists want Jace back, only Clary swoons in constant self-absorption; her relationship angst, resolved two books ago, can't carry volume five the way it did earlier installments. The heroic, metaphysical and, yes, romantic travails of Simon, the daylight-walking, Jewish vampire with the Mark of Cain, would have made a more solid core for a second trilogy then Clary's continuing willingness to put her boyfriend ahead of the survival of the entire planet. The narrative zips from one young protagonist to another, as they argue with the werewolf council, summon angels and demons, fight the "million little paper cuts" of homophobia, and always, always negotiate sexual tension thick enough to cut with an iratze. Only the Clary perspective drags, focusing on her wardrobe instead of her character development, while the faux-incestuous vibes of earlier volumes give way to the real thing. The action once again climaxes in a tense, lush battle sequence just waiting for digital cinematic treatment. Clever prose is sprinkled lightly with Buffy-esque quips ("all the deadly sins....Greed, envy, gluttony, irony, pedantry, lust, and spanking").

Fans of the familiar will find this an unchallenging goth-and-glitter pleasure . (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-1686-4

Page Count: 544

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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