Will satisfy die-hard fans of the original trilogy

THE FEVER CODE

From the Maze Runner series , Vol. 5

Dashner returns to his dystopian future in this second prequel to the blockbuster Maze Runner series, detailing how the maze came into being.

Solar flares inflicted horrible damage to the Earth, and the resulting illness known as the Flare has mown down much of the human population. A few survivors, primarily children, are known to be immune to the disease that is driving their loved ones into madness and death. Taken to a hidden scientific research complex in Alaska known as World In Catastrophe, Killzone Experiment Department, they grow up in near isolation, with little human contact. Thomas is a “munie,” taken when he was only 5, destined to be an elite subject in a long-range study to find a cure. It’s only after several years he meets other munies, developing friendships with many. But it’s Teresa who becomes more than a friend, his partner in developing the maze, meant to help scientists understand how different stimuli impact munies’ brains. Along the way, Thomas sees incredible cruelty inflicted on his friends, all in the cause of developing an elusive cure. He’s been taught that “WICKED is good”…but how long can he actually believe it? While the story details how the maze was built, it is still confusing as to why, giving this the feeling of simply a preface to set up all that follows. Thomas (evidently white, though his comrades are a multiethnic crew) goes from scene to scene like a piece on a Parcheesi board, moving in fits and starts to a predetermined end.

Will satisfy die-hard fans of the original trilogy . (Science fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-51309-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2016

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Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice.

THE FIELD GUIDE TO THE NORTH AMERICAN TEENAGER

A teenage, not-so-lonely loner endures the wilds of high school in Austin, Texas.

Norris Kaplan, the protagonist of Philippe’s debut novel, is a hypersweaty, uber-snarky black, Haitian, French-Canadian pushing to survive life in his new school. His professor mom’s new tenure-track job transplants Norris mid–school year, and his biting wit and sarcasm are exposed through his cataloging of his new world in a field guide–style burn book. He’s greeted in his new life by an assortment of acquaintances, Liam, who is white and struggling with depression; Maddie, a self-sacrificing white cheerleader with a heart of gold; and Aarti, his Indian-American love interest who offers connection. Norris’ ego, fueled by his insecurities, often gets in the way of meaningful character development. The scenes showcasing his emotional growth are too brief and, despite foreshadowing, the climax falls flat because he still gets incredible personal access to people he’s hurt. A scene where Norris is confronted by his mother for getting drunk and belligerent with a white cop is diluted by his refusal or inability to grasp the severity of the situation and the resultant minor consequences. The humor is spot-on, as is the representation of the black diaspora; the opportunity for broader conversations about other topics is there, however, the uneven buildup of detailed, meaningful exchanges and the glibness of Norris’ voice detract.

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-282411-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers...

NEVER FALL DOWN

A harrowing tale of survival in the Killing Fields.

The childhood of Arn Chorn-Pond has been captured for young readers before, in Michelle Lord and Shino Arihara's picture book, A Song for Cambodia (2008). McCormick, known for issue-oriented realism, offers a fictionalized retelling of Chorn-Pond's youth for older readers. McCormick's version begins when the Khmer Rouge marches into 11-year-old Arn's Cambodian neighborhood and forces everyone into the country. Arn doesn't understand what the Khmer Rouge stands for; he only knows that over the next several years he and the other children shrink away on a handful of rice a day, while the corpses of adults pile ever higher in the mango grove. Arn does what he must to survive—and, wherever possible, to protect a small pocket of children and adults around him. Arn's chilling history pulls no punches, trusting its readers to cope with the reality of children forced to participate in murder, torture, sexual exploitation and genocide. This gut-wrenching tale is marred only by the author's choice to use broken English for both dialogue and description. Chorn-Pond, in real life, has spoken eloquently (and fluently) on the influence he's gained by learning English; this prose diminishes both his struggle and his story.

Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers will seek out the history themselves. (preface, author's note) (Historical fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-173093-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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