Informative but not inspired.

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BROKEN ARROW

From the Seven Sequels series

Steve’s dream of a relaxing holiday in Spain is disrupted when he receives an email from his brother that makes him question everything he knows about his grandfather.

With only a forged passport and a coded message as clues, Steve will need all the help he can get to figure out whether his grandfather was a well-traveled businessman or a double agent. Thankfully, his friend Laia is not only beautiful, but well-versed in the nuances of Spain’s troubled history. Together with Laia’s father, they are able to decipher the clues and follow the path toward a deadly secret. However, they have dangerous competition, and if Laia and Steve are unable to solve the mystery, the consequences could be catastrophic. Steve’s quest is part–Cold War mystery and part–Spanish history lesson. Unfortunately the historical details occasionally overwhelm the story, robbing the narrative of its focus. From a structural standpoint, the puzzles are satisfyingly difficult, but the mystery is too quickly solved. While the information about a little-known chapter in history is interesting and the setting is beautiful, they are not enough to sustain the journey. Even Steve and Laia’s budding romance fails to bring heat to this lukewarm story.

Informative but not inspired. (Mystery. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0540-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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