This vacation founders in less-than-terrifying waters.

GRAVEDIGGERS

TERROR COVE

From the Gravediggers series , Vol. 2

The second book in the Gravediggers series presents a family vacation with beaches, boats and a body count.

When classmates Ian, Kendra and PJ all win family vacations to Puerto Rico, it seems like the perfect escape from the memories of their last trip, which started with zombies and ended with the trio being declared the next generation of zombie fighters. Soon enough, though, a perfectly normal setting soon turns into a zombie magnet, and the trio find themselves trapped on a tropical island, fighting waves of waterlogged, reanimated corpses. But this time, the monsters have been upgraded, thanks to a mysterious millionaire and his sinister zombie agenda. The SAT practice words and the zombie kick-ass moments return along with the kids, but the zombies are no longer desiccated corpses—these are bloated, fish-eaten bodies sloughing off flesh left and right. Ian, Kendra and PJ are more defined this time around, each with a distinct personality; unfortunately, their personalities aren’t all that engaging. In fact, the various jungle creatures have more presence on the page in their brief appearances than the teens and their families. A coven of witches adds a bit of spice, but there’s an overall lack of emotion all around. Krovatin sets the stage for a third novel with a growing threat and betrayal, but it’s hard to build enthusiasm for what has already become an extremely formulaic series.

This vacation founders in less-than-terrifying waters. (Adventure. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-207743-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

THE CONSPIRACY

From the Plot to Kill Hitler series , Vol. 1

Near the end of World War II, two kids join their parents in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler.

Max, 12, lives with his parents and his older sister in a Berlin that’s under constant air bombardment. During one such raid, a mortally wounded man stumbles into the white German family’s home and gasps out his last wish: “The Führer must die.” With this nighttime visitation, Max and Gerta discover their parents have been part of a resistance cell, and the siblings want in. They meet a colorful band of upper-class types who seem almost too whimsical to be serious. Despite her charming levity, Prussian aristocrat and cell leader Frau Becker is grimly aware of the stakes. She enlists Max and Gerta as couriers who sneak forged identification papers to Jews in hiding. Max and Gerta are merely (and realistically) cogs in the adults’ plans, but there’s plenty of room for their own heroism. They escape capture, rescue each other when they’re caught out during an air raid, and willingly put themselves repeatedly at risk to catch a spy. The fictional plotters—based on a mix of several real anti-Hitler resistance cells—are portrayed with a genuine humor, giving them the space to feel alive even in such a slim volume.

It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35902-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more