A complex, intriguing YA sci-fi adventure.

External Forces

THE LAWS OF MOTION: LEX 1

In this dystopian young-adult novel, a teenage girl with a secret genetic anomaly undergoes grueling military training—and also finds love.

In Rix’s debut, the first in a planned trilogy, America closed its borders after an asteroid known as “God's Fury” destroyed most of the world. Now, the Department of Evolution, or “Devo,” carefully culls people not deemed genetically acceptable and controls breeding to enhance or remove genetic traits. Devotees serve the Devo to ensure order and genetic purity—because beyond the borders, genetically imperfect Deviants are lurking, trying to get in. Sixteen-year-old Jess Grant and her best friend, Jay, have only a few possible futures: They can become Devotees, become breeders or join the military. But Jess has a reason to avoid the Devotees—she has a genetic defect that has given her a brown mark on her stomach, and the ability to react at superspeed when attacked. The handsome, mysterious Sgt. Matt Anderson takes a special interest in her and picks her to be a part of his Black Ops squad. Soon, she’s learning to shoot guns and throw knives as part of her military training while also exploring a romance with Matt. Jess eventually finds out that people outside the borders may not be monsters; later, she learns that she may be a prophesied savior of the world known as “The Navigator.” Although this dystopian novel doesn’t tread much new ground, it does provide a magnificently imagined world and intriguing characters. Rix engagingly plays out Jess and Matt’s relationship with subtle touches, longing looks and playful banter. She also effectively challenges her young readers to face difficult questions—what does “human” mean, and who should decide?—while ably setting the stage for an upcoming sequel.

A complex, intriguing YA sci-fi adventure.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2013

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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A witty addition to the long-running series.

THE DEEP END

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 15

The Wimpy Kid hits the road.

The Heffley clan has been stuck living together in Gramma’s basement for two months, waiting for the family home to be repaired, and the constant togetherness has been getting on everybody’s nerves. Luckily Greg’s Uncle Gary has a camper waiting for someone to use it, and so the Heffleys set off on the open road looking for an adventurous vacation, hoping the changing scenery will bring a spark back to the family unit. The winding road leads the Heffleys to a sprawling RV park, a setting teeming with possibilities for Greg to get up to his usual shenanigans. Greg’s snarky asides and misadventures continue to entertain. At this point the Wimpy Kid books run like a well-oiled machine, paced perfectly with witty lines, smart gags, and charming cartoons. Kinney knows just where to put a joke, the precise moment to give a character shading, and exactly how to get the narrative rolling, spinning out the oddest plot developments. The appreciation Kinney has for these characters seeps through the novels, endearing the Heffleys to readers even through this title, the 15th installment in a franchise boasting spinoffs, movies, and merchandise. There may come a time when Greg and his family overstay their welcome, but thankfully that day still seems far off.

A witty addition to the long-running series. (Humor. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4868-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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