THE DA VINCI CODE

A satisfying adaptation for teens who want their thrills clean.

The bestselling page-turner, adapted for young readers.

Harvard religious symbology professor Robert Langdon is in Paris for a speaking engagement when he is summoned to the Louvre after-hours. The museum’s curator has been brutally murdered, and mysterious circumstances make Langdon a suspect in the eyes of the police and a clue in the eyes of the curator’s estranged granddaughter, cryptologist Sophie Neveu. Sophie and Robert escape the French police and follow clues left behind that lead through history and secret societies and to a stunning secret that threatens to destroy the Catholic Church and change the world forever. The thriller that was ubiquitous in the early 2000s has been out of the spotlight just long enough to feel fresh to this adaptation’s intended audience, but there isn’t much difference between this book and the original. The sexy bits have been cut out, which is odd. It would seem the publisher feels that America’s young people can’t handle an orgy, but it can handle a destabilization of belief systems that have governed human relations for a couple thousand years. At least there’s no attempt to “young up” Robert and Sophie and cast them as teenage prodigies. Regardless, Brown’s tale remains engrossing, prompting quick turns of the page and readings in one sitting. The exposition can be clunky at times, and the tertiary characters are expendable, but the big reveal is a blast, a pulpy solution that perfectly dovetails with the Indiana Jones–meets–Sherlock Holmes vibe the novel is constantly striving for. Bring on Angels and Demons.

A satisfying adaptation for teens who want their thrills clean. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1582-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2016

THE FIELD GUIDE TO THE NORTH AMERICAN TEENAGER

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice.

A teenage, not-so-lonely loner endures the wilds of high school in Austin, Texas.

Norris Kaplan, the protagonist of Philippe’s debut novel, is a hypersweaty, uber-snarky black, Haitian, French-Canadian pushing to survive life in his new school. His professor mom’s new tenure-track job transplants Norris mid–school year, and his biting wit and sarcasm are exposed through his cataloging of his new world in a field guide–style burn book. He’s greeted in his new life by an assortment of acquaintances, Liam, who is white and struggling with depression; Maddie, a self-sacrificing white cheerleader with a heart of gold; and Aarti, his Indian-American love interest who offers connection. Norris’ ego, fueled by his insecurities, often gets in the way of meaningful character development. The scenes showcasing his emotional growth are too brief and, despite foreshadowing, the climax falls flat because he still gets incredible personal access to people he’s hurt. A scene where Norris is confronted by his mother for getting drunk and belligerent with a white cop is diluted by his refusal or inability to grasp the severity of the situation and the resultant minor consequences. The humor is spot-on, as is the representation of the black diaspora; the opportunity for broader conversations about other topics is there, however, the uneven buildup of detailed, meaningful exchanges and the glibness of Norris’ voice detract.

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-282411-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

NEVER FALL DOWN

Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers...

A harrowing tale of survival in the Killing Fields.

The childhood of Arn Chorn-Pond has been captured for young readers before, in Michelle Lord and Shino Arihara's picture book, A Song for Cambodia (2008). McCormick, known for issue-oriented realism, offers a fictionalized retelling of Chorn-Pond's youth for older readers. McCormick's version begins when the Khmer Rouge marches into 11-year-old Arn's Cambodian neighborhood and forces everyone into the country. Arn doesn't understand what the Khmer Rouge stands for; he only knows that over the next several years he and the other children shrink away on a handful of rice a day, while the corpses of adults pile ever higher in the mango grove. Arn does what he must to survive—and, wherever possible, to protect a small pocket of children and adults around him. Arn's chilling history pulls no punches, trusting its readers to cope with the reality of children forced to participate in murder, torture, sexual exploitation and genocide. This gut-wrenching tale is marred only by the author's choice to use broken English for both dialogue and description. Chorn-Pond, in real life, has spoken eloquently (and fluently) on the influence he's gained by learning English; this prose diminishes both his struggle and his story.

Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers will seek out the history themselves. (preface, author's note) (Historical fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-173093-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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