Off-the-shelf adventure modules, stocked with familiar character types and set into a scenario that is nonsensical even by...

READ REVIEW

A MUTINY IN TIME

From the Infinity Ring series , Vol. 1

Kicking off a multiauthor, multimedia thriller series modeled on The 39 Clues, this paint-by-numbers opener endows three teenagers with a football-sized time device and sends them back to 1492 to keep Columbus from being killed in a mutiny.

Strewing early scenes with clever "what's wrong with this picture?" references like a flag with 48 stars and the national capital as Philadelphia, Dashner hooks up self-described "Time Nerds" Dak (mad about history), Sera (ditto science) and Riq (ditto languages), with the Hystorians. Set up by Aristotle after the premature assassination of Alexander, this secret organization is meant to identify other history-derailing Great Breaks (through intuition, apparently) and to assist travelers from the future in fixing them. The Hystorians are opposed by a powerful group called SQ for no clear reason except that, you know, there have to be Bad Guys. Logic not being the strong suit here, the Time Nerds' first mission with the newly invented Infinity Ring takes them not to ancient Macedon but to 15th-century Spain. This and subsequent print volumes end on cliffhangers that segue into gamelike, online-only sequels (not seen) set in other eras and accessible with pass codes provided on foldout clue sheets.

Off-the-shelf adventure modules, stocked with familiar character types and set into a scenario that is nonsensical even by the usual low standards of formula time-travel adventure. (Science fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-38696-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

THE CONSPIRACY

From the Plot to Kill Hitler series , Vol. 1

Near the end of World War II, two kids join their parents in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler.

Max, 12, lives with his parents and his older sister in a Berlin that’s under constant air bombardment. During one such raid, a mortally wounded man stumbles into the white German family’s home and gasps out his last wish: “The Führer must die.” With this nighttime visitation, Max and Gerta discover their parents have been part of a resistance cell, and the siblings want in. They meet a colorful band of upper-class types who seem almost too whimsical to be serious. Despite her charming levity, Prussian aristocrat and cell leader Frau Becker is grimly aware of the stakes. She enlists Max and Gerta as couriers who sneak forged identification papers to Jews in hiding. Max and Gerta are merely (and realistically) cogs in the adults’ plans, but there’s plenty of room for their own heroism. They escape capture, rescue each other when they’re caught out during an air raid, and willingly put themselves repeatedly at risk to catch a spy. The fictional plotters—based on a mix of several real anti-Hitler resistance cells—are portrayed with a genuine humor, giving them the space to feel alive even in such a slim volume.

It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35902-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more