CHASING THE SKIP

A solid cast and heartfelt emotions lift this above its contrivances

"Dad thinks if you have a kid, you should pay child support. Paying for them is the law, but spending time with them isn't."

That's what aspiring journalist Ricki writes her first day riding shotgun with her bounty-hunter father. It's the first time in her life she's spent appreciable time with him, so she writes from the heart. They are only together because her feckless mother has taken off—again—and her grandmother got tired of putting her up. She used to tell herself stories of the exciting life her father led, inventing a mythology to explain his absence, but it turns out, he's just been a jerk. Bail-bond enforcement is a lot duller than reality TV suggests, but the adrenaline starts flowing when Ricki strikes up a conversation with "skip" Ian, who has jumped bail on a grand theft auto count. In seemingly no time, the charismatic teen has slipped his cuffs and stolen Ricki's dad's truck. The ensuing caper is a gentle one, a road trip calculated to give Ricki time to get to know her dad and achieve an understanding of herself and her family. She is an appealingly vulnerable character, her anger at both parents and her love for her mother both genuine and leading to completely believable choices, however wrongheaded.

A solid cast and heartfelt emotions lift this above its contrivances . (Fiction. 13-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9391-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

FOX & PHOENIX

Overall, the blurred magic/technology boundary gives a compelling flavor to an adventure well worth reading.

A ghost dragon sends Kai and his spirit pig on a quest to rescue the princess of a cyberpunk China-analogue.

Kai’s grown apart from his friends since the adventure that brought him money and the friendship of Princess Lian. At least he still sees his best friend Yún daily during their shared apprenticeship, but he can't talk to her without arguing. Now the king of Lóng City is gravely ill, the magic flux powering the city's talk-phones and electronics is failing and Kai's mother is missing. His unwilling quest to save the day takes Kai across the Seventy Kingdoms all the way to the mysterious Phoenix Empire. It's a good thing Yún joins him, because Kai simply isn't clever enough to deal with all the bureaucracy the journey entails, from taxes to passports. They travel by foot, pony and luxurious train to find Princess Lian, who can surely help them. As an adventurer, Kai is on the passive side and tends to let the world happen to him, but this is a minor quibble. He also frequently refers to the adventure that brought him together with his now-estranged friends, but since those events were from a short story ("Pig, Crane, Fox: Three Hearts Unfolding" from the fantasy anthology Magic in the Mirrorstone, edited by Steve Berman, 2008), readers are more likely to be frustrated then familiar.

Overall, the blurred magic/technology boundary gives a compelling flavor to an adventure well worth reading. (Fantasy/cyberpunk. 13-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-670-01278-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

THE HUNT

From the Hunt series , Vol. 1

An attempted twist on The Hunger Games

If the world is full of vampires, how do the humans survive?

Gene's a heper: one of the disgusting endangered species that sweats, can't see in the dark and don't have fangs. He's lived this long by disguising himself as a real person, never smiling or laughing or napping where he can be seen; gobbling bloody raw meat with his classmates; showing a stoic, expressionless face at all times. Appearing emotionless is trickier than usual when the nation announces a Heper Hunt. Every citizen of the nation will be entered into a lottery, and a lucky few will be selected to hunt the last remaining hepers to the death. When Gene is selected (of course Gene is selected), he's terrified: Training with the other lottery winners at the Heper Institute, he'll have no opportunity to scrub off the sweat, body hair, plaque and other evidence of his vile human nature. If the vampires realize there is a human among them, he'll be torn to pieces before he can blink. Luckily, Gene seems to have an unlikely ally at the Institute: Ashley June, a classmate of his who has secrets of her own. While the worldbuilding is thin and frequently nonsensical, this grotesque and bloody construction of a vampire world will appeal to readers who've been craving gore over romance with their vampires. Perhaps the sequel will bring the illogical parts together.

An attempted twist on The Hunger Games . (Paranormal adventure. 13-15)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-250-00514-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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