Engrossing action and characters readers will keep thinking about in a splendid survival story.

THREATENED

From the Ape Quartet series , Vol. 2

The author of Endangered (2012) introduces another primate species, offering a poignant demonstration of connection between chimpanzees and humans.

When AIDs orphan Luc goes into the Gabon jungle with professor Abdul Mohammed, a scientist who frees him from his bondholder and plans to study chimpanzees in the wild, the resourceful boy finds a surprising new family and makes a real home. Luc’s story is riveting and seldom comfortable, for him or for his readers. The chimpanzees are aggressive, but they are not as lethal as the leopard or as personally dangerous as the bushmeat hunter the professor frightens away or Monsieur Tatagani, determined to return Luc to his stable of street boys. Drummer, the young male chimp Luc rescues from a trap, and Mango, his toddler sister, have personalities as real and appealing as the boy himself. Luc’s first-person narration is so lively and detailed readers won’t notice that he seems remarkably acute for a 12- or 13-year-old, even one who has watched his mother and baby sister die and lived, afterward, by his own wits. The particulars of his daily life Inside—where Gabonese believe humans shouldn’t go—will enthrall those who enjoy adventure, and the intimate glimpse of chimpanzee daily life is a treat for nature lovers.

Engrossing action and characters readers will keep thinking about in a splendid survival story. (Adventure. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-55143-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful.

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SALT TO THE SEA

January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens’ lives converge in hopes of escape.

Returning to the successful formula of her highly lauded debut, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys combines research (described in extensive backmatter) with well-crafted fiction to bring to life another little-known story: the sinking (from Soviet torpedoes) of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff. Told in four alternating voices—Lithuanian nurse Joana, Polish Emilia, Prussian forger Florian, and German soldier Alfred—with often contemporary cadences, this stints on neither history nor fiction. The three sympathetic refugees and their motley companions (especially an orphaned boy and an elderly shoemaker) make it clear that while the Gustloff was a German ship full of German civilians and soldiers during World War II, its sinking was still a tragedy. Only Alfred, stationed on the Gustloff, lacks sympathy; almost a caricature, he is self-delusional, unlikable, a Hitler worshiper. As a vehicle for exposition, however, and a reminder of Germany’s role in the war, he serves an invaluable purpose that almost makes up for the mustache-twirling quality of his petty villainy. The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn’t change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning.

Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful. (author’s note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-16030-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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