Breezy sci-fi intrigue for the young set who (unlike the heroine) won’t ask inconvenient questions.

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Year of the Crystal Children

After witnessing a secret bio-experiment at school, Bailey is sent to a juvenile center in the Adirondacks, where she finds unexpected allies in trying to uncover the truth behind the conspiracy.

Chandler’s fast-moving YA thriller is a sort of teenage X-Files minus any Scully-Mulder sexual tension. It’s a throwback of sorts to the more innocent days of Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators (Nancy Drew would be a little too retro). Bailey, a New York state high schooler of Mohawk descent, lingers after class and glimpses weird guys in moon suits injecting some kind of chemical into the cafeteria lunches. Railroaded on charges of trespassing and vandalism to keep her quiet and separated from her family, she’s sent to Pine Farm in the Adirondacks, a rather poorly guarded supervisory center for detained juvenilesin this case, a multicultural assembly of young people also saw too much regarding government surveillance, robotics, mind control, and vast underground bases. Pine Farm happens to be adjacent to a chief staging area for such nefarious military/National Security Agency/Black-Ops stuff. With her newfound allies inside and outside the facility, Bailey tries to reveal the astonishing truth...which, in true X Files sequel-baiting fashion, is never revealed in full (it may or may not involve aliens). Readers above the targeted age demographic may find that a lot of the puzzle falls into place rather conveniently for the headstrong heroine, though it is interesting to note the timely gee-whiz element provided by modern technology: namely, remote-controlled flying camera-drones, here occupying the pivotal gadget role.

Breezy sci-fi intrigue for the young set who (unlike the heroine) won’t ask inconvenient questions.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1501044731

Page Count: 268

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2015

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THE BOOK THIEF

When Death tells a story, you pay attention. Liesel Meminger is a young girl growing up outside of Munich in Nazi Germany, and Death tells her story as “an attempt—a flying jump of an attempt—to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.” When her foster father helps her learn to read and she discovers the power of words, Liesel begins stealing books from Nazi book burnings and the mayor’s wife’s library. As she becomes a better reader, she becomes a writer, writing a book about her life in such a miserable time. Liesel’s experiences move Death to say, “I am haunted by humans.” How could the human race be “so ugly and so glorious” at the same time? This big, expansive novel is a leisurely working out of fate, of seemingly chance encounters and events that ultimately touch, like dominoes as they collide. The writing is elegant, philosophical and moving. Even at its length, it’s a work to read slowly and savor. Beautiful and important. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83100-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A riveting tour de force.

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SADIE

Sadie is seeking her sister’s killer; months later, podcast producer West McCray seeks to learn why Sadie abandoned her car and vanished.

When Mattie was born to Claire, a white, drug-addicted, single mother, Sadie, 6, became her de facto parent. Her baby sister’s love filled a hole in Sadie’s fiercely protective heart. Claire favored Mattie, who remained attached to her long after Claire disappeared from their grim, trailer-park home in rural Colorado. Sadie believes that Mattie’s determination to find Claire—which Sadie opposed—led to her brutal murder at age 13. Now 19, Sadie sets out to find and kill the man she holds responsible for her sister’s murder. Interwoven with Sadie’s first-person account is the transcript of McCray’s podcast series, The Girls, tracking his efforts to learn what’s happened to Sadie, prompted and partly guided by the sisters’ sympathetic neighbor. West’s off-the-record conversations are also included. Sadie is smart, observant, tough, and at times heartbreakingly vulnerable, her interactions mediated by a profound stutter. In the podcast, characters first seen through Sadie’s ruthless eyes further reveal (or conceal) their interactions and motives. Like Salla Simukka’s Lumikki Andersson, Sadie’s a powerful avatar: the justice-seeking loner incarnated as a teenage girl. Sadie exempts no one—including herself—from her unsparing judgment. Conveyed indirectly through its effect on victims, child sexual abuse permeates the novel as does poverty’s intergenerational legacy.

A riveting tour de force. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-10571-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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