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

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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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.

GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN

A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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HATCHET

A prototypical survival story: after an airplane crash, a 13-year-old city boy spends two months alone in the Canadian wilderness. In transit between his divorcing parents, Brian is the plane's only passenger. After casually showing him how to steer, the pilot has a heart attack and dies. In a breathtaking sequence, Brian maneuvers the plane for hours while he tries to think what to do, at last crashing as gently and levelly as he can manage into a lake. The plane sinks; all he has left is a hatchet, attached to his belt. His injuries prove painful but not fundamental. In time, he builds a shelter, experiments with berries, finds turtle eggs, starts a fire, makes a bow and arrow to catch fish and birds, and makes peace with the larger wildlife. He also battles despair and emerges more patient, prepared to learn from his mistakes—when a rogue moose attacks him and a fierce storm reminds him of his mortality, he's prepared to make repairs with philosophical persistence. His mixed feelings surprise him when the plane finally surfaces so that he can retrieve the survival pack; and then he's rescued. Plausible, taut, this is a spellbinding account. Paulsen's staccato, repetitive style conveys Brian's stress; his combination of third-person narrative with Brian's interior monologue pulls the reader into the story. Brian's angst over a terrible secret—he's seen his mother with another man—is undeveloped and doesn't contribute much, except as one item from his previous life that he sees in better perspective, as a result of his experience. High interest, not hard to read. A winner.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1987

ISBN: 1416925082

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1987

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