High adventure on the space frontier. The horse is a nice touch.

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CRATER

From the Helium-3 series , Vol. 1

Long-haul trucking on the Moon…with raiders, romance and a secret mission.

Teenage orphan Crater Trueblood was plucked from the Helium-3 mines by lunar kingpin Colonel Medaris because he’s an “honest man who was above suspicion and also easily manipulated.” Trueblood suddenly finds himself scouting for a convoy headed for Armstrong City and charged with picking up a mysterious package. In the course of an eventful trip, Crater survives numerous natural hazards out in the “big suck,” learns how to deal with rambunctious truckers (much like herding cats) and plays various high-speed low-gravity sports. He also hooks up with the Colonel’s mercurial granddaughter Maria and battles genetically altered superwarriors with help from a vacuum-suited horse and a Tribble-like supercomputer. Tongue planted pretty firmly in cheek, Hickam tucks in rough-and-ready characters with names like Nitro Ned and Unlisted Sally, along with ballads (“All I want is a moon dust girl, / Down in a crater waitin’ for love….”), sexist comments, running jokes and prayers to the “Big Miner.” As he leaves his protagonist at the brink of a war with Earth and determined to “keep his homeland safe,” sequels are plainly in the offing.

High adventure on the space frontier. The horse is a nice touch. (Science fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59554-664-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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I AM NUMBER FOUR

From the Lorien Legacies series , Vol. 1

If it were a Golden Age comic, this tale of ridiculous science, space dogs and humanoid aliens with flashlights in their hands might not be bad. Alas... Number Four is a fugitive from the planet Lorien, which is sloppily described as both "hundreds of lightyears away" and "billions of miles away." Along with eight other children and their caretakers, Number Four escaped from the Mogadorian invasion of Lorien ten years ago. Now the nine children are scattered on Earth, hiding. Luckily and fairly nonsensically, the planet's Elders cast a charm on them so they could only be killed in numerical order, but children one through three are dead, and Number Four is next. Too bad he's finally gained a friend and a girlfriend and doesn't want to run. At least his newly developing alien powers means there will be screen-ready combat and explosions. Perhaps most idiotic, "author" Pittacus Lore is a character in this fiction—but the first-person narrator is someone else entirely. Maybe this is a natural extension of lightly hidden actual author James Frey's drive to fictionalize his life, but literature it ain't. (Science fiction. 11-13)

     

 

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-196955-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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NIGHT OF THE SOUL STEALER

From the Last Apprentice series , Vol. 3

The third and weakest episode in Delaney’s Last Apprentice series takes narrator Tom Ward, his secretive master Old Gregory and canny young witch Alice to winter quarters on bleak Anglezarke Moor where, thanks to massive contrivances, they survive encounters with three blood-sucking witches, a boggart or two and a necromancer out to raise one of the old gods. Along with offering supernatural threats that are both fewer and less dangerous than in previous volumes, Delaney injects his plot with artificial peril by repeatedly having his protagonists inexplicably lie or refuse to impart important information to one another. He then sets up the climax with a cruel deception that is not only ludicrously complicated, but out of character for the gruff but fundamentally decent Gregory, and closes with Tom’s newly widowed mother showing him chests of magic secrets that he’s forbidden to open for several months. Arrasmith’s dark chapter-head illustrations and appended “notebook” pages add atmosphere but not vitality to this limp, overlong outing. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-076624-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Greenwillow

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2007

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