SIDEKICKS

The author who made a splash with The Big Splash (2008) takes the “costumed superheroes” genre out for a joyride, and anyone who comes along will never read comics the same way again. Six years as Bright Boy, sidekick to crime-fighting superhero Phantom Justice, has left Scott a teenager with no life, no friends and revealing yellow tights that show the news cameras every bit of the involuntary hard-on he gets after heroically rescuing a beautiful victim. Then another seemingly devastating development: He and arch-nemesis Monkeywrench (Dr. Chaotic’s sidekick) both lose their masks in battle, and Monkeywrench turns out to be not only a girl, but one he knows from school. This leads to a giddy, liberating romance, as well as cool costume makeovers and sensational publicity after the cameras catch some of that love action. It also earns them death sentences from their respective employers, who turn out to be very different from their public images and not at all willing to be edged out of the limelight by supporting characters. Scott’s present-tense narration keeps pedal to the metal from start to finish, and readers will be quickly won over as the two super-strong, super-fast, super-likable protagonists face both inner conflicts and a Dark Knight–ish villain as deeply psychotic and scary as he is super powerful. Look for more twists than a pretzel factory and a possible sequel. (Superhero fantasy. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8109-9803-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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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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Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.

A MAP OF DAYS

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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