A little tightening of the plot screws could have led to this uneven novel being stupid good.

READ REVIEW

STUPID FAST

A rambling ode to male adolescent angst.

It is the summer before junior year, and oddball outsider Felton Reinstein has hit the puberty jackpot. Suddenly tall, muscular and “stupid fast,” he has been invited by the high-school football coach to work out with the team with the understanding that he may win a position come fall. His sudden popularity is marred by his mother’s equally abrupt bout of depression and his little brother Andrew’s intense anger about it. Felton thinks his mom’s bad mood may have something to do with his age and father’s suicide 10 years ago, but he is too distracted by his new posse and the cute pianist next door, Aleah, to find out. Soon the situation deteriorates to the point where Mom never leaves the house and Andrew burns all his clothes in the yard in order to get her attention. Now Felton is forced to face the long-buried secret of his father’s death if he wants to heal his family. Felton’s manic, repetitive voice and naive, trusting personality stand out in a field of dude lit populated with posturing tough guys and cynical know-it-alls. Add strong secondary characterizations and readers may be able to overcome the tangential storyline and rather perfunctory climax.

A little tightening of the plot screws could have led to this uneven novel being stupid good. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4022-5630-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching.

CODE NAME VERITY

Breaking away from Arthurian legends (The Winter Prince, 1993, etc.), Wein delivers a heartbreaking tale of friendship during World War II.

In a cell in Nazi-occupied France, a young woman writes. Like Scheherezade, to whom she is compared by the SS officer in charge of her case, she dribbles out information—“everything I can remember about the British War Effort”—in exchange for time and a reprieve from torture. But her story is more than a listing of wireless codes or aircraft types. Instead, she describes her friendship with Maddie, the pilot who flew them to France, as well as the real details of the British War Effort: the breaking down of class barriers, the opportunities, the fears and victories not only of war, but of daily life. She also describes, almost casually, her unbearable current situation and the SS officer who holds her life in his hands and his beleaguered female associate, who translates the narrative each day. Through the layers of story, characters (including the Nazis) spring to life. And as the epigraph makes clear, there is more to this tale than is immediately apparent. The twists will lead readers to finish the last page and turn back to the beginning to see how the pieces slot perfectly, unexpectedly into place.

A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5219-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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Second installments in trilogies sometimes slump—here’s hoping the third book is a return to the vibrancy of the...

CHILDREN OF VIRTUE AND VENGEANCE

From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 2

In this follow-up to Children of Blood and Bone (2018), Zélie and company are back, and the future of Orïsha hangs in the balance.

Zélie, now a maji Reaper, has achieved her goal and brought magic back to Orïsha, but at great cost. Grief and loss are strong themes throughout the book, compounded by guilt for Zélie, who feels responsible for her father’s death. Zélie and her older brother, Tzain, try to help Princess Amari ascend the throne, believing her family dead—but Queen Nehanda, Amari’s mother, is very much alive and more formidable than they could imagine. The trio join the Iyika, a band of rebel maji working to protect their persecuted people from threats new and old. Though the characters’ trauma reads as real and understandable, their decisions don’t always feel sensible or logical, often stemming from a lack of communication or forethought, which may leave readers frustrated. Though still commendable for its detailed worldbuilding, with an ending compelling enough to keep fans interested in the next installment, much of the book feels like navigating minefields of characters’ ill-advised decisions. All characters are black except for a secondary character with silky black hair, tan skin, and gray eyes “like teardrops.”

Second installments in trilogies sometimes slump—here’s hoping the third book is a return to the vibrancy of the first. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-17099-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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