Offbeat while also incorporating themes of tolerance, October's tale will have readers rooting for her every step of the...

EXTRAORDINARY OCTOBER

An ordinary girl, an unquenchable itch, a bizarre, spontaneously appearing flower-shaped ankle tattoo—and suddenly, four days before October Fetterhoff's 18th birthday, she begins to change.

The seemingly ordinary white teen is becoming stronger and more agile, can even see in the dark and understand animals and birds. These emerging powers come in handy since somebody is after her and she doesn't know who or why in this well-crafted and gripping quest tale that involves adversarial trolls and fairies and a mysterious evil that threatens to take over two kingdoms, with October in the middle. Told in the first person with understated humor, what begins as a realistic story quickly shifts. October’s affectionate, jokester father, an obese recovering alcoholic, hires a hypnotist to help him lose weight and becomes zombielike; blond, white Walker, one of two incredibly handsome new boys at school who now pursue her, helps October "transplant" through walls when she is attacked by crows and chased by slobbers (troll pets); her Latina friend goes missing, as does her mom, a mycologist. In an auspicious debut for teens, adult author Wagman (Life #6, 2015, etc.) proves particularly adept at mixing genres and maintains a terrific balance between fantastical (and occasional macabre) happenings and genuine teen perceptions.

Offbeat while also incorporating themes of tolerance, October's tale will have readers rooting for her every step of the way. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63246-036-3

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Ig Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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THE LIGHTNING THIEF

From the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series , Vol. 1

Edgar Award–winning Riordan leaves the adult world of mystery to begin a fantasy series for younger readers. Twelve-year-old Percy (full name, Perseus) Jackson has attended six schools in six years. Officially diagnosed with ADHD, his lack of self-control gets him in trouble again and again. What if it isn’t his fault? What if all the outrageous incidents that get him kicked out of school are the result of his being a “half-blood,” the product of a relationship between a human and a Greek god? Could it be true that his math teacher Mrs. Dodds transformed into a shriveled hag with bat wings, a Fury, and was trying to kill him? Did he really vanquish her with a pen that turned into a sword? One need not be an expert in Greek mythology to enjoy Percy’s journey to retrieve Zeus’s master bolt from the Underworld, but those who are familiar with the deities and demi-gods will have many an ah-ha moment. Along the way, Percy and his cohort run into Medusa, Cerberus and Pan, among others. The sardonic tone of the narrator’s voice lends a refreshing air of realism to this riotously paced quest tale of heroism that questions the realities of our world, family, friendship and loyalty. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7868-5629-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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Those preparing to “slay the sucktastic beast known as high school” will particularly appreciate this spirited read.

MOMENTOUS EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS

From the Life of a Cactus series

In the sequel to Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus (2017), Aven Green confronts her biggest challenge yet: surviving high school without arms.

Fourteen-year-old Aven has just settled into life at Stagecoach Pass with her adoptive parents when everything changes again. She’s entering high school, which means that 2,300 new kids will stare at her missing arms—and her feet, which do almost everything hands can (except, alas, air quotes). Aven resolves to be “blasé” and field her classmates’ pranks with aplomb, but a humiliating betrayal shakes her self-confidence. Even her friendships feel unsteady. Her friend Connor’s moved away and made a new friend who, like him, has Tourette’s syndrome: a girl. And is Lando, her friend Zion’s popular older brother, being sweet to Aven out of pity—or something more? Bowling keenly depicts the universal awkwardness of adolescence and the particular self-consciousness of navigating a disability. Aven’s “armless-girl problems” realistically grow thornier in this outing, touching on such tough topics as death and aging, but warm, quirky secondary characters lend support. A few preachy epiphanies notwithstanding, Aven’s honest, witty voice shines—whether out-of-reach vending-machine snacks are “taunting” her or she’s nursing heartaches. A subplot exploring Aven’s curiosity about her biological father resolves with a touching twist. Most characters, including Aven, appear white; Zion and Lando are black.

Those preparing to “slay the sucktastic beast known as high school” will particularly appreciate this spirited read. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4549-3329-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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