This emotional journey for a time-traveling guy and his now–girl-next-door is better suited to romance readers than...

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COLD SUMMER

There’s no time like the present in this time-travel romance.

Teenager Harper Croft, apparently abandoned by her (inexplicably) aloof mother, moves to Iowa to live with her widower uncle, Jasper. It’s been six years since she saw her childhood buddy, now-17-year-old Kale Jackson, but their friendship soon turns into romance. But Kale finds it hard to be present, mentally and literally. He’s traumatized by his seemingly uncontrollable and increasingly frequent travels through time, having spent several months traveling back to World War II. With unexplainable absences and injuries, Kale has earned his gruff dad’s wrath and brother’s dismissal. Kale’s baffling unwillingness to demonstrate his ability is as logically flawed as the oversimplified explanation of time travel, but here, it’s cast as neither superpower nor curse but a metaphor for coming-of-age. Each of the white protagonists (also co-narrators) deals with familial woes, but girl gamer Harper is far less angst-y than broody mechanic Kale. Debut author Cole focuses more on exhilarating relationships than excellent adventures; she uses the slow pacing to develop her characters but tends toward repetitive descriptions and moralizing.

This emotional journey for a time-traveling guy and his now–girl-next-door is better suited to romance readers than science-fiction aficionados. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-0766-5

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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A painful story smartly told, Benjamin’s first solo novel has appeal well beyond a middle school audience.

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THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH

In middle school, where “Worst Thing” can mean anything from a pimple to public humiliation, Suzy “Zu” Swanson really has a reason to be in crisis: her former best friend has died unexpectedly, and the seventh-grader is literally silenced by grief and confusion.

A chance encounter with a jellyfish display on a school trip gives her focus—for Zu, the venomous Irukandji jellyfish, while rare, provides a possible explanation for the “how” of Franny’s death. And Zu is desperate for answers and relief from her haunting grief and guilt. In seven parts neatly organized around the scientific method as presented by Mrs. Turton, a middle school teacher who really gets the fragility of her students, Zu examines and analyzes past and present. A painful story of friendship made and lost emerges: the inseparable early years, Franny’s pulling away, Zu’s increasing social isolation, and a final attempt by Zu to honor a childhood pact. The author gently paints Zu as a bit of an oddball; not knowing what hair product to use leaves her feeling “like a separate species altogether,” and knowing too many species of jellyfish earns her the nickname Medusa. Surrounded by the cruelty of adolescence, Zu is awkward, smart, methodical, and driven by sadness. She eventually follows her research far beyond the middle school norm, because “ ‘Sometimes things just happen’ is not an explanation. It is not remotely scientific.”

A painful story smartly told, Benjamin’s first solo novel has appeal well beyond a middle school audience. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-38086-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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THE LIGHTNING THIEF

From the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series , Vol. 1

Edgar Award–winning Riordan leaves the adult world of mystery to begin a fantasy series for younger readers. Twelve-year-old Percy (full name, Perseus) Jackson has attended six schools in six years. Officially diagnosed with ADHD, his lack of self-control gets him in trouble again and again. What if it isn’t his fault? What if all the outrageous incidents that get him kicked out of school are the result of his being a “half-blood,” the product of a relationship between a human and a Greek god? Could it be true that his math teacher Mrs. Dodds transformed into a shriveled hag with bat wings, a Fury, and was trying to kill him? Did he really vanquish her with a pen that turned into a sword? One need not be an expert in Greek mythology to enjoy Percy’s journey to retrieve Zeus’s master bolt from the Underworld, but those who are familiar with the deities and demi-gods will have many an ah-ha moment. Along the way, Percy and his cohort run into Medusa, Cerberus and Pan, among others. The sardonic tone of the narrator’s voice lends a refreshing air of realism to this riotously paced quest tale of heroism that questions the realities of our world, family, friendship and loyalty. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7868-5629-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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