A lackluster story with forgettable characters.

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MINESWEEPER

From the Special Forces series , Vol. 2

A surfer joins the U.S. Navy and fights in the Korean War.

Fergus Frew Junior loves the ocean despite its being the reason his father, Fergus Senior, died. It’s June 1949: Fergus has just graduated high school and has no plans except for catching sweet waves on the beach. On one such day, Fergus meets Duke, a U.S. Marine who borrows his surfboard without asking. Despite Fergus’ being hotheaded and having no interest in making friends, the two form a bond over their love of the sea. All the while, Duke—embittered by his experience with other Marines—encourages Fergus to join the Navy, selling it as an opportunity for a comfortable life living in pleasant locations. A tragic accident prompts Fergus to listen to his friend’s advice, and he joins the Navy with perilous consequences, as he is drawn into the Korean War. Tender moments between Fergus and his mother and the odd but interesting friendship between Fergus and Duke are unfortunately not enough to offset the dry writing and underdeveloped plot. The too-fast pacing leaves little room to form attachments to any of the characters or provide enough historical context for the events at hand. While promising at first, this quick read results in little enjoyment, much like one of Fergus’ listless, aimless summers. All American characters seem to be white.

A lackluster story with forgettable characters. (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-86165-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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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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