Promising elements aplenty, but they never fully mesh or deliver more than a passing chill.

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I AM PRINCESS X

Cryptic clues in a Web comic put a Seattle teenager onto the trail of a deranged kidnapper and his victim.

Three years after the (supposed) drowning of bosom friend Libby, 16-year-old May is shocked to see new stickers and other merch for “Princess X,” an intrepid swordswoman in a puff-sleeved dress and sneakers that she and Libby had privately invented in fifth grade. The princess’s recently posted online adventures tell a scary tale about escaping from a “Needle Man” years after being stolen as a replacement for his own dead daughter. They leave May convinced that Libby is still alive—hiding out from her clever, relentless captor and imbedding veiled messages in the comic that only May would catch. Said hints lead May and Trick, a hacker dude she goes to for help, on a quest through the city’s seedier and underground quarters to encounters with Jackdaw (a gay, goth Robin Hood) and a desperate scheme to steal proof of the Needle Man’s perfidy. Priest cranks the suspense somewhat by casting the kidnapper as both an IT expert and a killer, but because he mostly appears only in the emotionally charged, sparely drawn purple-and-black comics pages that Ciesemier scatters through the tale’s first two-thirds, he remains, at best, a shadowy bogeyman.

Promising elements aplenty, but they never fully mesh or deliver more than a passing chill. (Thriller. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-62085-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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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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