A notable new series for teens and adventure lovers.

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THE LAST ARAKAD

VOLUME 1

Follow the adventures of two teens as they are inducted into a magical society and fight against a dark force.

Our heroes are two teens—shy, older sister, Maya, and her cocky, impulsive brother, Thomas. After their father dies mysteriously and their mother falls gravely ill, the family stays in Paris with a mysterious benefactor named Uncle D., who reveals that he had a special relationship with the teen’s father and offers to teach them an ancient magical art known as the Arakad. Soon after the training begins, Arakad masters across the world are discovered violently murdered. A rival gang called the Thaalung Clan has harnessed the power of the Arakad for evil purposes. Uncle D. must train his new students while fending off the forces of the Thaalung. An epic battle ensues that will crisscross Europe and involve a mysteriously addictive energy drink. The success or failure of this sort of story, particularly in the minds of young readers, depends almost entirely on how interesting the magic is. The best novels create detailed and even plausible descriptions of magical powers. Look at the way Harry Potter treated wizardry for a high-water mark. While not quite up to that standard, the Arakad is an interesting and entertaining mix of religion, mythology and sorcery. This book is the first in what is likely a multivolume series, and the groundwork has been laid for a satisfyingly epic story. In this first volume, as many questions are raised as answered. Wolf does have a weakness for New Age-inflected platitudes that even young readers will find cheesy, but these do little to detract from the momentum of the plot. Wolf has also taken the step of enhancing the book with online content that helps broaden the universe of the Arakad and further invest readers in the characters. If this standard of ambition and skill continues, the Arakad novels could make for a stellar new YA series.

A notable new series for teens and adventure lovers.

Pub Date: April 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-1470169022

Page Count: 260

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2012

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Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly...

THE GIVER

From the Giver Quartet series , Vol. 1

In a radical departure from her realistic fiction and comic chronicles of Anastasia, Lowry creates a chilling, tightly controlled future society where all controversy, pain, and choice have been expunged, each childhood year has its privileges and responsibilities, and family members are selected for compatibility.

As Jonas approaches the "Ceremony of Twelve," he wonders what his adult "Assignment" will be. Father, a "Nurturer," cares for "newchildren"; Mother works in the "Department of Justice"; but Jonas's admitted talents suggest no particular calling. In the event, he is named "Receiver," to replace an Elder with a unique function: holding the community's memories—painful, troubling, or prone to lead (like love) to disorder; the Elder ("The Giver") now begins to transfer these memories to Jonas. The process is deeply disturbing; for the first time, Jonas learns about ordinary things like color, the sun, snow, and mountains, as well as love, war, and death: the ceremony known as "release" is revealed to be murder. Horrified, Jonas plots escape to "Elsewhere," a step he believes will return the memories to all the people, but his timing is upset by a decision to release a newchild he has come to love. Ill-equipped, Jonas sets out with the baby on a desperate journey whose enigmatic conclusion resonates with allegory: Jonas may be a Christ figure, but the contrasts here with Christian symbols are also intriguing.

Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 978-0-395-64566-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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