Real geeks wouldn’t have it any other way.

RANDOMS

From the Randoms series , Vol. 1

Part of Spider-Man’s appeal is that he’s a geek; people love him because he gets picked on as much as any nerdy teenager. Zeke Reynolds follows in the same tradition.

As the story opens, Zeke is being smacked in the head by a bully, immediately establishing sympathy. Even when Zeke travels into space as one of the first people to make contact with extraterrestrial life, the other kids from Earth avoid him at all costs. And when he defeats an attacking warship, he’s threatened with an intergalactic trial. Like Spider-Man, Zeke has superpowers, but his power is his geekiness. When he has to come up with strategy, he says, “Our lives, at this point, depend on a scheme I’m stealing from Star Trek Two.” He goes into battle wearing Firefly suspenders. Zeke is a terrific character, and Liss is also, clearly and joyfully, a geek—occasionally to the book’s detriment. Page after page is spent on discussions of nanites and their effect on the human body, nearly shutting down the story. (There’s even a flowchart.) But the aliens feel genuinely—and wonderfully—alien, with fully developed cultures and biology. Like the best Marvel comics, the book ends on a note of tragedy. This is jarring, but it gives Zeke’s victories a feeling of depth and realism.

Real geeks wouldn’t have it any other way. (Science fiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1779-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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A riveting novel that will have readers rooting for its star.

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DAUGHTER OF THE DEEP

A teenager faces seemingly insurmountable challenges in this riveting modern-day spinoff of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

For Ana Dakkar and her fellow ninth graders at Harding-Pencroft Academy, there is nothing more momentous than the weekend trials each student must ace at the end of freshman year. Students who fail to showcase their survival skills are asked to leave the academy, a heavily guarded place Ana has thought of as home since the mysterious deaths of her parents. Though Ana’s brother, Dev, is a senior, what happens at trials is such a closely guarded secret that no one in her year knows what to expect. While her group is out on the water for their trials, Harding-Pencroft is demolished in an attack orchestrated by a rival school. As Ana and her classmates discover that the events depicted in Jules Verne’s classic novels were real, Riordan’s lifelong love of the source material is clear—especially when Ana learns information that will help her find a way to protect the group. A foreword by Roshani Chokshi introduces this adventure that is both great entertainment and centers a well-developed protagonist who is thoughtfully shown dealing with loss. Ana is of Bundeli Indian descent, and her group of peers, who are diverse in various ways, experience losses and struggles of their own. (Final illustrations not seen.)

A riveting novel that will have readers rooting for its star. (Harding-Pencroft Academy guide, cast list) (Adventure. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-07792-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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