While the coding instruction’s as top-notch as ever, in this installment it’s interpersonal dynamics and characters that,...

POTIONS & PARAMETERS

From the Secret Coders series , Vol. 5

After Robots & Repeats (2017) the heroes code their way into and out of the villainous Dr. One-Zero’s clutches.

After Josh takes point in coding an escape from the vicious ducks with teeth, the coders find Hopper’s father—but unfortunately, he and the other captives have been fed the mind-wiping Green Pop. Even worse, Dr. One-Zero steals Light-Light. They’re trapped with bottles of the Green Pop when Josh finds a hint for the lock’s passcode (interrupting Eni’s earnestly awkward romantic confession to Hopper). The resulting binary-to-ASCII puzzle makes good use of graphics for a quick, crystal clear recap on binary. Liberated, the three kids face pressures—Hopper’s mother wants them to leave town; Eni’s threatened with transfer if his sisters catch him with his friend; Josh feels like a third wheel in the friendship—but only they, and Professor Bee, can stop One-Zero’s latest diabolical scheme. Bee also reveals the truth behind his noselessness in a wild surprise crossover with Edwin Abbott’s Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884). The cliffhanger sees the multiracial trio on the verge of coding a portal into Flatland, and it’s followed by a comedic short that uses coded repeats to find Josh’s dog.

While the coding instruction’s as top-notch as ever, in this installment it’s interpersonal dynamics and characters that, satisfyingly, take center stage. (Graphic science fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-608-6

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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A grand narrative that examines the power of music to inspire beauty in a world overrun with fear and intolerance, it’s...

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ECHO

A multilayered novel set in turbulent times explores music’s healing power.

Sweeping across years and place, Ryan’s full-bodied story is actually five stories that take readers from an enchanted forest to Germany, Pennsylvania, Southern California, and finally New York City. Linking the stories is an ethereal-sounding harmonica first introduced in the fairy-tale beginning of the book and marked with a mysterious M. In Nazi Germany, 12-year-old Friedrich finds the harmonica in an abandoned building; playing it fills him with the courage to attempt to free his father from Dachau. Next, the harmonica reaches two brothers in an orphanage in Depression-era Pennsylvania, from which they are adopted by a mysterious wealthy woman who doesn’t seem to want them. Just after the United States enters World War II, the harmonica then makes its way to Southern California in a box of used instruments for poor children; as fifth-grader Ivy Lopez learns to play, she discovers she has exceptional musical ability. Ryan weaves these stories together, first, with the theme of music—symbolized by the harmonica—and its ability to empower the disadvantaged and discriminated-against, and then, at the novel’s conclusion, as readers learn the intertwined fate of each story’s protagonist.

A grand narrative that examines the power of music to inspire beauty in a world overrun with fear and intolerance, it’s worth every moment of readers’ time. (Historical fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-439-87402-1

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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