A snapping, crackling, popping homage to classic horror that alludes to no optimistic resolution—all the more reason for a...

SPLINTERS

From the Prospero Chronicles series , Vol. 1

Trust is a fickle commodity in a Northern California town being slowly ingested by shape-shifting intergalactic parasites. 

When 16-year-old Ben’s childhood friend Haley is presumed dead, fatherless Ben and his mother pack up again and head to Haley’s hometown of Prospero, California, to pay condolences and find a new place to stay. Prospero’s paranormal reputation is made a shade weirder at Haley’s memorial service when Ben meets redheaded, overtly peculiar 16-year-old Mina Todd. Mina warns Ben that it’s not really his friend that’s missing but rather one of many shape-shifting alien impostors called Splinters. Mina is a “Splinter resistor,” and she asks him to help her spy on, stalk and destroy the growing Splinter population. A Splinter attack on the mismatched duo (Mina is a creature of logic and deduction; Ben is a charming kid with “heartthrob hair”) convinces Ben to join her. Written by a husband-wife duo who admit an affinity for horror films in their dedication, this dual narrative from Ben’s and Mina’s perspectives has horror’s classic backdrop of small-town creepiness. One welcome difference to the archetypal “final girl” formula of flaxen hair and virginal naïveté is that Mina is tough, possibly insane, definitely brilliant, and has already been terrorized and tormented by the body-snatching Splinters long before the story begins. 

A snapping, crackling, popping homage to classic horror that alludes to no optimistic resolution—all the more reason for a series. (Horror. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-939967-39-8

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Jolly Fish Press

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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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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