Readers willing to go with the book’s flow should enjoy this logic-free, apocalyptic caper. (Thriller. 12-18)

ASSASSINS: NEMESIS

From the Assassins series , Vol. 2

Fifteen-year-old intersex, mixed-race (Vietnamese and Dominican) teenager Blake’s life with a special-agent dad and a helicopter-pilot mom is anything but “normal”—and it’s about to get a lot thriller-ier.

After Blake’s parents are killed, Blake, who chooses which gender to express each day, is kidnapped from protective custody by the Calvers, a family of “vigilante-bodyguards” including mixed-race, olive-skinned Daelan, who is about Blake’s age. Dru, Daelan’s sister, dates Kindra Weston, a former teenage assassin for hire who escaped her family (of assassins) to help the Calvers and gay couple (and AWOL Marines) Geomar and Aaron try to figure out what shady businesswoman Lillian French, who regularly employs the Westons, is planning. Can the Calvers keep Blake safe? Will worried Muslim special-agent godparents Altair and Fayza ever see Blake again? Can they decipher French’s plan and stop her before millions die? Cameron’s sequel picks up where Assassins: Discord (2016) left off but with a new focal character, Blake instead of Kindra. Both volumes are best read as one long, consciously multicultural, aspirationally inclusive, utterly implausible adventure. Every step forward in the investigation relies on a turncoat in French’s employ suiciding to deliver a coded message or infodump; on the other hand, angst-y episodes are realistic enough, but they waffle on a bit. Character names would fit better in a fantasy novel…which, in a sense, this is.

Readers willing to go with the book’s flow should enjoy this logic-free, apocalyptic caper. (Thriller. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62649-424-4

Page Count: 390

Publisher: Triton Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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A bone-chilling tale not to be ignored by the universe.

PRISONER B-3087

If Anne Frank had been a boy, this is the story her male counterpart might have told. At least, the very beginning of this historical novel reads as such.

It is 1939, and Yanek Gruener is a 10-year old Jew in Kraków when the Nazis invade Poland. His family is forced to live with multiple other families in a tiny apartment as his beloved neighborhood of Podgórze changes from haven to ghetto in a matter of weeks. Readers will be quickly drawn into this first-person account of dwindling freedoms, daily humiliations and heart-wrenching separations from loved ones. Yet as the story darkens, it begs the age-old question of when and how to introduce children to the extremes of human brutality. Based on the true story of the life of Jack Gruener, who remarkably survived not just one, but 10 different concentration camps, this is an extraordinary, memorable and hopeful saga told in unflinching prose. While Gratz’s words and early images are geared for young people, and are less gory than some accounts, Yanek’s later experiences bear a closer resemblance to Elie Wiesel’s Night than more middle-grade offerings, such as Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars. It may well support classroom work with adult review first.

A bone-chilling tale not to be ignored by the universe. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-45901-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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A wartime drama with enough depth and psychological complexity to satisfy budding bookworms.

A PLACE TO HANG THE MOON

Three plucky orphan siblings are in search of a mother in wartime England.

When their grandmother dies, 12-year-old William, 11-year-old Edmund, and 9-year-old Anna are left in London in the care of an elderly housekeeper. As part of the World War II evacuation of children to safety, they are relocated to the countryside, something the family solicitor hopes may lead to finding adoptive parents. However, they are billeted with the Forresters, an unpleasant family reminiscent of the Dursleys. Bullying by their hosts’ two sons, who despise them; the ever present fear of German attack; and the dread of homelessness test their mettle to the limit. The orphans long to find a home of their own, and good boy William is stressed by his responsibility as head of the small family. Edmund’s desire for revenge against the Forresters and a prank involving a snake get them evicted from their billet, and they end up in a much worse situation. They find sanctuary in the village library and a savior in the librarian, who is married to a German and therefore ostracized by the locals. Mrs. Müller provides them with moral support, a listening ear, and true appreciation and love. The classic books she chooses for them—The Wind in the Willows and Anne of Green Gables, among others—may generate ideas for further reading. All characters are White.

A wartime drama with enough depth and psychological complexity to satisfy budding bookworms. (reading list) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4705-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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