Diagnosis: middle-book syndrome, but it’ll satisfy hungry readers who are fans of fast-paced stories


From the Storm Runner series , Vol. 2

Zane Obispo must die in order to save all the other young godborns of the world after he accidentally reveals their existence to the gods.

Since the events of series openerThe Storm Runner(2018), Mexican American Zane has been holed up on an island off Mexico’s Caribbean coast with his mother, uncle Hondo, best-friend-and-maybe-crush Brooks, and Ms. Cab the seer, kept hidden from the other Maya gods’ eyes by a magical barrier drawn by the goddess Ixtab. When another godborn named Ren shows up, she sets off a chain of events that forces them off the island to save both other godborns, who have been kidnapped, and Zane’s father, the disgraced Maya god Hurakan. That journey will take them to the underworld and back to the U.S. in search of a god named the Fire Keeper. As in the first book, the plot is busy, and the conclusion feels unfinished, even for a series entry. Readers without a detailed memory of the first book may find themselves confused for the lack of backstory. The female characters, though full of personality and with major magical powers, feel underused, alas. What gives the book its charm is the many Maya gods and demons, who do not present like stereotypical old, wise beings but come with all the snark and melodrama of any 21st-century character.

Diagnosis: middle-book syndrome, but it’ll satisfy hungry readers who are fans of fast-paced stories (. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04188-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents/Disney

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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.


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?

Dizzyingly silly.


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

Did you like this book?