Bogged down by a disconnected main character and overwhelming implausibility.

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Kingdom of Glass

In this YA novel, an orphaned high schooler develops fantastical abilities that put those around him at risk.

What father, upon discovering that a child molester has hold of his child, wouldn’t fly into a murderous rage? Seven-year-old Robert Lawson’s father does exactly that; but instead of being hailed as a hero, he’s made the victim of a crusading district attorney who manages, unrealistically, to get the man convicted of first-degree murder. The sleepy town of North Fork, Calif.—which boasts one grocery store and one elementary school teacher—constructs a special detention center with an execution room, apparently just for this one man. Most implausibly, the imprisonment, trial and death by injection all take place within about nine months. Soon, Robert’s mother dies of cancer, and he’s sent to a grim residential care complex, then finally to a foster mother. Even though Robert never leaves North Fork, and his father’s execution (which Robert witnessed) must be the biggest news the town has ever seen, he forgets how his father died and no one reminds him. By high school, things are looking up for Robert: Some would-be bullies back off in great pain after trying to threaten him, he makes a friend and he even has a girlfriend. But then everyone in his school except him becomes deathly ill. The small-town mayor, who wields an unlikely amount of power, has Robert whisked away without due process to a prisonlike hospital. There, based on the theory that he caused the illnesses, he’s interrogated, kept under guard in solitary confinement without books, Internet or visitors, and subjected to vague, painful tests. Robert decides he must run away, if only to protect people from himself. In the wilderness, he makes an important animal friend and learns more about himself, his abilities and how to control them, setting the stage for the next volume in a planned series. In his debut, Ramirez is at his best in scenes between Robert and his best friend, Henry; their dialogue is lively and natural, and Robert comes to life in ways he doesn’t otherwise in the book. Beyond that, very little in the book feels natural, with many events straining credulity. Robert’s reactions are mostly flat and remote, even when events are at their strangest and saddest. Instead of building up the suspense, the pacing lags, while several continuity errors—like a 7-year-old doing eighth-grade homework—also get in the way. The last chapter leaves hope that the next entry in this series, when Robert finally harnesses his abilities, will be more satisfying.

Bogged down by a disconnected main character and overwhelming implausibility.

Pub Date: Feb. 29, 2012

ISBN: 978-0983419884

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Vinspire Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2012

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MORNING GIRL

Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

AFTER ALL I'VE DONE

A middle-aged woman sidelined by a horrific accident finds even sharper pains waiting on the other side of her recuperation in this expert nightmare by Hardy, familiar to many readers as Megan Hart, author of All the Secrets We Keep (2017), etc.

Five months ago, while she was on her way to the hospital with an ailing gallbladder, Diana Sparrow’s car hit a deer on a rural Pennsylvania road. When she awoke, she was minus her gallbladder, two working collarbones (and therefore two functioning arms), and her memory. During a recovery that would’ve been impossible without the constant ministrations of Harriett Richmond, the mother-in-law who’s the real reason Diana married her husband, Jonathan, Diana’s discovered that Jonathan has been cheating on her with her childhood friend Valerie Delagatti. Divorce is out of the question: Diana’s grown used to the pampered lifestyle the prenup she’d signed would snatch away from her. Every day is filled with torments. She slips and falls in a pool of wine on her kitchen floor she’s sure she didn’t spill herself. At the emergency room, her credit card and debit card are declined. She feels that she hates oppressively solicitous Harriett but has no idea why. Her sessions with her psychiatrist fail to heal her rage at her adoptive mother, an addict who abandoned her then returned only to disappear again and die an ugly death. Even worse, her attempts to recover her lost memory lead to an excruciatingly paced series of revelations. Val says Diana asked her to seduce Jonathan. Diana realizes that Cole, a fellow student in her watercolor class, isn’t the stranger she’d thought he was. Where can this maze of deceptions possibly end?

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-470-0

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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