An action-filled story full of funny, topical, and sympathetic observations about the world today.

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NINE DIGITS

An eccentric family competes in a reality show in Duret’s debut YA novel.

The Marcus family of Philadelphia—Skunky, Golden Boy, Barkus, Marticus, Nee Nee, and their parents, Airball and Saint Marcus—are selected to compete in a new, national reality show, where they’re woefully overmatched by the hardy, athletic Ponchatrains from New Orleans and the intellectually gifted Perfects from Boston. As the competition takes off and its producer, Buzzemiah Miller, mounts an extensive promotional campaign, readers get to know the Marcuses and their competitors in multilayered ways: through their behind-the-scenes interactions, their performances in various “challenges,” and their glossy, manufactured images, presented to and consumed by the show’s millions of viewers. The vain, attention-seeking Nee Nee, the oldest Marcus daughter, functions as the main protagonist as her family and their TV fans look for substance and redemption in the most unlikely places. A quote on the novel’s back cover compares it to Norton Juster’s 1961 classic The Phantom Tollbooth, and after a somewhat slow start, Duret’s book really does begin to approach the witty, imaginative, and accessible brilliance of that genre-busting work. It isn’t a fantasy—there’s no mystical land, unless Hollywood qualifies as such, and everything seems to follow generally accepted rules of time and space. Nevertheless, the story does have elements of the supremely absurd that are delightfully amusing and fiendishly clever. While staying focused on the action, Duret makes incisive, thought-provoking comments about what we value, as individuals and as a culture, when it comes to family, work, competition, education, and entertainment. His lively, slightly snarky prose is also a perfect fit with the material (“He didn’t seem as much to have a tan as to be entitled to one”). Overall, this book will appeal to fans of all YA genres—and their parents as well.

An action-filled story full of funny, topical, and sympathetic observations about the world today.

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1938101793

Page Count: 284

Publisher: Second Wind Publishing, LLC

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A humdinger of a cliffhanger will leave readers clamoring for volume three.

CATCHING FIRE

From the Hunger Games series , Vol. 2

In the sequel to the hugely popular The Hunger Games (2008), Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, having won the annual Games, are now rich and famous—and trapped in the fiction that they are lovers. They are seen as a threat to the Capitol, their unusual manner of winning an act of rebellion that could inspire uprisings throughout Panem. Knowing her life is in danger, Katniss considers escaping with her family and friends but instead reluctantly assumes the role of a rebel, almost forced into it by threats from the insidious President Snow.

Beyond the expert world building, the acute social commentary and the large cast of fully realized characters, there’s action, intrigue, romance and some amount of hope in a story readers will find completely engrossing. Collins weaves in enough background for this novel to stand alone, but it will be a far richer experience for those who have read the first installment and come to love Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch and the rest of the desperate residents of this dystopia.

A humdinger of a cliffhanger will leave readers clamoring for volume three. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-439-02349-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2009

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