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From the Rule of Three series

A page-turning story of teen empowerment with a potent underlying message.

When technology fails, a routine flight turns into a fight for survival in this stand-alone story set in Walters’ Rule of Three universe.

After visiting his grandmother, 13-year-old Jamie excitedly boards the plane from O’Hare airport that will take him back home. His parents are Delta pilots, so he’s an interested observer of flight details and procedures. But a problem during takeoff leaves the plane stranded on the runway without any power. Capt. Daley takes control, guiding passengers to the terminal and then to nearby hotels for safety. Unable to reach his grandmother, because cell phones are also not functioning, Jamie is stranded. Other planes have crashed, and cars are stopped on the roads. Jamie and others return to the plane to release all the dogs, and one of them, a large dog named Godzilla, immediately becomes Jamie’s faithful sidekick. As collective panic leads to societal breakdown, people start killing each other. With Capt. Daley in command, Jamie joins a small group setting off on foot for the plane’s original destination over 1,000 miles away. Against this apocalyptic backdrop, Jamie’s journey home becomes a coming-of-age odyssey as well as a survival story. Walters writes short, crisp chapters that will keep readers engaged. The novel’s haunting premise and adolescent perspective give familiar tropes an intriguing spin. Jamie and Capt. Daley are white; names and contextual clues point to diversity in the supporting cast.

A page-turning story of teen empowerment with a potent underlying message. (Adventure. 12-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781459835115

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023

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A somewhat entertaining, fast-paced journey that fizzles at the end.

A teenager runs away to Seattle, hoping to locate her missing sister.

Fifteen-year-old Eleanor idolizes her older sister, Sam, despite their being complete opposites: Sam is outgoing and wild, while socially awkward Eleanor is known as Little Miss Perfect, always doing the right and safe thing. After Sam runs away from home, the only communication she has with Eleanor are three postcards sent from Seattle. Eleanor decides to trace her 18-year-old sister’s footsteps, leaving her messages and hopping on a bus to find her. But when Sam doesn’t meet her at the bus depot, Eleanor, who has no real plan, has to learn how to survive on her own while searching the city for her sister. While the close bond between the girls is well depicted through flashbacks, the reveal of an important secret ultimately feels anticlimactic. A major plot point relies too heavily on chance and coincidence to be fully believable. While the color scheme, cityscapes, and background illustrations are atmospheric, the manga-inspired drawing style comes across as dated and flat. The depiction of the fabricated stories Eleanor tells is intriguing, as are the themes of friendship, living in the moment, and maintaining hope; unfortunately, none are thematically strong enough to resonate. The emotional impact of Eleanor’s experiences is diluted by her at times humorous narration. Eleanor and the main cast read as White.

A somewhat entertaining, fast-paced journey that fizzles at the end. (Graphic novel. 12-15)

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-50023-4

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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Quietly suspenseful, vividly character-driven, and poignant, with insights into cerebral palsy and the multiple meanings of...

A nonverbal teen becomes the “real-life password” to solving a terrible crime in this British import.

Sixteen-year-old Jemma has “no secrets of [her] own.” Quadriplegic due to cerebral palsy, she can’t move or speak and depends on her foster parents and her aide, Sarah, for everything from eating to using the bathroom. But people often share their secrets with her. After all, Jemma can never tell—even when Sarah’s sleazy boyfriend, Dan, hints at his involvement in a recent murder just before Sarah goes missing. But when innovative technology offers Jemma a chance to communicate, can she expose Dan’s secret before he silences her? Despite its suspenseful premise, the plot pales against Joelson’s (Girl in the Window, 2018) intimate, unflinching exploration of Jemma’s character; the book’s most powerful tension lies in Jemma’s simple, direct narration of her unrecognized, uncomfortably realistic frustrations and fears, such as patronizing adults who “don’t realize that [she has] a functioning brain” and her worry that her overwhelmed parents will stop fostering. Refreshingly, the author’s detailed depiction of augmentative and alternative communication explores both the joy of self-expression and the physical and mental effort it requires. Jemma’s bond with her chaotic but supportive foster family grounds the story, particularly her touching rapport with her younger foster brother, Finn, who’s autistic and also nonverbal. Most characters appear white.

Quietly suspenseful, vividly character-driven, and poignant, with insights into cerebral palsy and the multiple meanings of “family.” (Suspense. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-9336-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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