A New-Age tale of surrendering to God’s will packaged as a Hogwarts-like adventure.

READ REVIEW

Mary Baker and The Eye of the Tiger

In Cherubim’s debut YA novel, a young, abused girl discovers magic in her life as she inherits wealth and a position at a school for the spiritually gifted.

Mary Baker, who spends hours locked in a closet by her abusive mother, mourns when the kind grandfather she hardly knew dies. When Mary inherits Grandpa Hal’s haunted orchard, as well as his hidden wealth and an important stone, her mother takes the battle to court—and Mary begins a happier life in the custody of her grandfather’s friends, who run the orchard. Just as she adjusts to better circumstances, she is whisked off to the White Light Center, a New-Age school where she learns how to communicate with spirits and surrender to God. The plot’s long buildup means that most of the action—the loss of Grandpa Hal’s precious stone and the attempt to recover it—is crammed into the last half, and Mary’s new friends at the White Light Center are rushed in their character development. The supernatural subplots bear some similarity to the Harry Potter series, but those concerned about witchcraft in Rowling’s tales might appreciate the God-centered focus here (although the magic itself is divorced from religion and dependent on crystals). The magical practice—talking to good spirits, shunning evil ones and consulting the Holy Spirits—may attract readers itching for such adventures. Author Cherubim imaginatively renders key factors in her spiritual system—surrendering to the will of God—throughout the novel, initially in Mary’s first swimming lessons and later as a deus ex avis, when some of Mary’s problems are solved, just as she has given up solving them, by her parrot. While Mary and her friends and family have some depth, the villains—Mary’s wicked mother, an evil sorceress and the wicked Zad—are completely two-dimensional placeholders for bad deeds. Still, young readers may appreciate the world of spirits and strange creatures found at a magic school.

A New-Age tale of surrendering to God’s will packaged as a Hogwarts-like adventure.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482659696

Page Count: 284

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2013

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Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly...

THE GIVER

From the Giver Quartet series , Vol. 1

In a radical departure from her realistic fiction and comic chronicles of Anastasia, Lowry creates a chilling, tightly controlled future society where all controversy, pain, and choice have been expunged, each childhood year has its privileges and responsibilities, and family members are selected for compatibility.

As Jonas approaches the "Ceremony of Twelve," he wonders what his adult "Assignment" will be. Father, a "Nurturer," cares for "newchildren"; Mother works in the "Department of Justice"; but Jonas's admitted talents suggest no particular calling. In the event, he is named "Receiver," to replace an Elder with a unique function: holding the community's memories—painful, troubling, or prone to lead (like love) to disorder; the Elder ("The Giver") now begins to transfer these memories to Jonas. The process is deeply disturbing; for the first time, Jonas learns about ordinary things like color, the sun, snow, and mountains, as well as love, war, and death: the ceremony known as "release" is revealed to be murder. Horrified, Jonas plots escape to "Elsewhere," a step he believes will return the memories to all the people, but his timing is upset by a decision to release a newchild he has come to love. Ill-equipped, Jonas sets out with the baby on a desperate journey whose enigmatic conclusion resonates with allegory: Jonas may be a Christ figure, but the contrasts here with Christian symbols are also intriguing.

Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 978-0-395-64566-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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Impressive world-building, breathtaking action and clear philosophical concerns make this volume, the beginning of a planned...

THE HUNGER GAMES

From the Hunger Games series , Vol. 1

Katniss Everdeen is a survivor.

She has to be; she’s representing her District, number 12, in the 74th Hunger Games in the Capitol, the heart of Panem, a new land that rose from the ruins of a post-apocalyptic North America. To punish citizens for an early rebellion, the rulers require each district to provide one girl and one boy, 24 in all, to fight like gladiators in a futuristic arena. The event is broadcast like reality TV, and the winner returns with wealth for his or her district. With clear inspiration from Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and the Greek tale of Theseus, Collins has created a brilliantly imagined dystopia, where the Capitol is rich and the rest of the country is kept in abject poverty, where the poor battle to the death for the amusement of the rich. However, poor copyediting in the first printing will distract careful readers—a crying shame. [Note: Errors have been corrected in subsequent printings, so we are now pleased to apply the Kirkus star.]

Impressive world-building, breathtaking action and clear philosophical concerns make this volume, the beginning of a planned trilogy, as good as The Giver and more exciting. (Science fiction. 11 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-439-02348-1

Page Count: 394

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2008

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