Generally, an enjoyable book with high stakes and a solid ending, despite the mushy middle.

CLASH OF THE WORLDS

From the House of Secrets series , Vol. 3

Following the 2013 death of co-author Vizzini, Rylander joins the team for the conclusion to the book-world–hopping House of Secrets series.

Starting immediately where Battle of the Beasts (2015) left off, the Walker children are losing their house (and father) to the family patriarch’s gambling addiction, and their fictional colossus friend, Fat Jagger, has escaped from his book world into their own—and he’s not the only character to cross over. To fix the situation, they need help from an old, dead enemy, but in seeking it, they inadvertently start a zombie apocalypse. In a frantic attempt to repair reality, they return to the pulp-fiction book worlds one more time, in pursuit of three objects that will enable them to permanently seal the realities off from one another before the Wind Witch can lead an army into San Francisco. For a large chunk of this chunky book, the three siblings separate to go after each token, and the constant life-threatening danger (and chapter-ending cliffhangers), paired with the episodic nature of the plot, begins to wear thin. The less the three work together, the more the Wind Witch can use them against one another. The action is nonstop, and likable side characters find themselves paying high prices as the kids skip through Western, science-fiction, fantasy, and other worlds. The children have to work hard for their happy ending.

Generally, an enjoyable book with high stakes and a solid ending, despite the mushy middle. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-219251-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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