A theme-packed pre-apocalyptic story for ideas-loving readers.

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END OF DAYS

A giant asteroid’s on a collision course with Earth.

Mild-mannered scientist Professor Sheppard is abducted in the middle of the night and brought to a supersecret facility where other scientific and mathematical great minds—all having supposedly died of unrelated medical problems and mishaps within the past months—have been sequestered to solve the problem of the planet-destroying asteroid. A few years later, the similar abduction of billionaire genius Joshua Fitchett is thwarted by his private security, and he goes public about the doomsday asteroid. Sixteen years further on—one year until predicted impact—civilization’s in tatters. Some accept imminent death and live lawlessly; some hope a Hail Mary from Sheppard and the scientists will save them; some join a popular religious movement that believes in thwarting the Devil-serving scientists who are trying to stop God’s plan. While mentioned, violence isn’t graphic. Meanwhile, street kid Billy civilizes a large gang, drawing the attention of another mysterious group. The steady march to potential annihilation is punctuated by attempts to save or doom Earth. A third-person omniscient viewpoint and straightforward voice keep the numerous characters and plotlines organized. Narrative tension stems from not knowing whether the scientists will succeed, the warring philosophies of transparency and secrecy, and hope vs. pragmatism and cynicism. The cliffhanger demands a sequel.

A theme-packed pre-apocalyptic story for ideas-loving readers. (Science fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-67006-7

Page Count: 319

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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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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The satisfyingly cataclysmic showdowns yield to peaceful resolution at last; here's hoping it holds this time.

THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS

From the Heroes of Olympus series , Vol. 5

With just 12 days to go until Gaea awakens fully on Aug. 1 and brings an end to the world as we know it, two groups of demigods struggle to stop her.

Aboard the Argo II, Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Frank, Hazel and Leo race to Athens for the final showdown. Meanwhile, three formerly supporting characters struggle to haul the ancient and massive Athena Parthenos statue from Europe to Camp Half-Blood: son of Hades Nico di Angelo, daughter of Bellona Reyna Ramírez-Arellano (and former praetor at New Rome) and satyr Coach Hedge. Coach Hedge is there mostly for comic relief, but his anxiety for the welfare of his very pregnant wood-nymph wife at Camp Half-Blood, where rogue New Rome augur Octavian has massed his armies to attack on Aug. 1, is touchingly genuine. The story of the demigods headed to Athens focuses on Jason, Piper and Leo and offers what Riordan does best: comedic, action-packed encounters with deities most readers—and sometimes characters—have never heard of. Goddess of victory Nike is particularly funny as she rails against "namby-pamby ideas of friendship and everybody wins participation awards." The story's emotional heft mostly comes from Nico's and Reyna's arduous and heartfelt journeys to self-acceptance. Readers who haven't made a point of revisiting The House of Hades (2013) before starting this may find themselves wondering just why each group's mission is so important, but there's no questioning that the characters think they're vital. And ultimately, any prophecy-driven adventure is at bottom arbitrary anyway. The story's occasional ventures into romance are stilted and awkward, but fortunately they are brief.

The satisfyingly cataclysmic showdowns yield to peaceful resolution at last; here's hoping it holds this time. (Fantasy. 10-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-4673-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2014

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