An involving thriller that moves like lightning.

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SECONDS AWAY

From the Mickey Bolitar series , Vol. 2

High school sleuth Mickey Bolitar continues to find trouble...or maybe it finds him (Shelter, 2011).

In a spooky house, Mickey squares off with a gnarled crone he knows only as the Bat Lady. She freaks him out by telling him that his father is not dead, and Mickey responds with a revelation of his own: that the paramedic who whisked his father away on the day of his death is a notorious Nazi war criminal. As implausible as this sounds, the Bat Lady's violent reaction seems a validation of his claim. This troubling issue is shoved onto a back burner with the news that Mickey's friend Rachel was shot by an intruder, who also killed her mother. The mutual attraction of Mickey and Rachel is a thorn in the side of her boyfriend, basketball star Troy Taylor, who also happens to be threatened by Mickey's mad court skills. Since Troy's dad is the police chief, Mickey finds himself treated like a suspect. He and outcast pals Ema and Spoon try to unravel both mysteries, too busy to even note the arrival of movie star Angelica Wyatt, who's managed by Mickey's Uncle Myron, with whom he lives (and around whom Coben has spun a successful series for adults). Coben deftly weaves these multiple plot threads into a compelling whole.

An involving thriller that moves like lightning. (Mystery. 11-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-25651-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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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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Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful.

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SALT TO THE SEA

January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens’ lives converge in hopes of escape.

Returning to the successful formula of her highly lauded debut, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys combines research (described in extensive backmatter) with well-crafted fiction to bring to life another little-known story: the sinking (from Soviet torpedoes) of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff. Told in four alternating voices—Lithuanian nurse Joana, Polish Emilia, Prussian forger Florian, and German soldier Alfred—with often contemporary cadences, this stints on neither history nor fiction. The three sympathetic refugees and their motley companions (especially an orphaned boy and an elderly shoemaker) make it clear that while the Gustloff was a German ship full of German civilians and soldiers during World War II, its sinking was still a tragedy. Only Alfred, stationed on the Gustloff, lacks sympathy; almost a caricature, he is self-delusional, unlikable, a Hitler worshiper. As a vehicle for exposition, however, and a reminder of Germany’s role in the war, he serves an invaluable purpose that almost makes up for the mustache-twirling quality of his petty villainy. The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn’t change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning.

Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful. (author’s note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-16030-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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