THE WALLS HAVE EYES

Like its predecessor The Sky Inside (2008), this sequel posits that no corrupt government is so powerful that it can’t be toppled by a boy and his robot dog. Frustrated with his uselessness among the genius children who make up the anti-government rebels, Martin and dog Chip return to domed Suburb HM1 to rescue Martin’s parents. In the ruins of an old-style outdoor suburb, Martin and his comfort-accustomed parents live a parody of a Leave It to Beaver lifestyle, unable to cope without television and convenience food. Ultimately, going it alone won’t be good enough, and Martin and his superpowered robot dog must confront the heart of the evil powers keeping his society subjugated. In a genre populated by gifted, destined and otherwise special child protagonists, Martin’s pure normality is a breath of fresh air. After an overly expository start, this simple tale provides comforting, enjoyable adventure. (Science fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-5379-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Ginee Seo/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2009

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Emily’s motives turn out to be little more than a pretext, but the author delivers another clever, suspenseful drama in the...

DEADLY PINK

Vande Velde again traps teenagers inside an authentically depicted arcade game—but here she works twists into the premise that are both amusing and crank up the danger.

As in User Unfriendly (1991) and Heir Apparent (2002), the game, called “The Land of Golden Butterflies,” is manufactured by the shadowy Rasmussem Corp. and is fully immersive, fed directly into the brain through electrodes. Into this game 14-year-old Grace Pizzelli’s big sister Emily has gone; moreover, she has refused to come out and altered the code so she can’t be forcibly ejected. As sessions that run longer than a few hours cause brain damage and death, the corporation desperately turns to Grace to follow Emily in and persuade her to leave. Reluctantly agreeing, Grace discovers to her disgust that, rather than offering the usual heroic-fantasy or science-fiction setting, this digital world has been colored in pinks and lavenders. It is stocked with (supposedly) benign magical creatures and hunky male servitors—in general, it seems designed to cater to 10-year-old would-be princesses. The idyll has gone sour, though, because thanks to Emily’s fiddling, not only have the wish-granting sprites turned nasty, but the game’s governing Artificial Intelligence has changed the Rules—disabling the “Quit” function and forcing both Grace and her already-failing sister to embark on a seemingly hopeless quest with their real lives at stake.

Emily’s motives turn out to be little more than a pretext, but the author delivers another clever, suspenseful drama in the digital domain. (Science fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-73850-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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TRUESIGHT

The conflict between individual and society takes place in a poorly constructed dystopia. Like everyone else in the colony of Harmony, Jacob is blind. The original 22nd-century colonists had turned to genetically engineered blindness to separate themselves from the sinful, bigoted Seers. Centuries later, the Truesighted colonists are proud of their controlled and violence-free society. As Jacob approaches his 13th birthday, he learns of cracks in Harmony’s purity: unevenly distributed food, government corruption, and the misery of his friend Delaney. As Jacob inexplicably gains sight (and becomes comfortable with concepts such as color and facial expression ridiculously quickly for a blind-from-birth boy in a blind society), he wonders if he can be reconciled to the rotten core of the only home he has ever known. An interesting concept marred by poor execution of the all-blind society and a too-evil villain. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-052285-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2004

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