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THE LAST FREE CAT

Earnest descriptions of Jade’s love for Feela and her burgeoning feelings for Kris—“It was if she sensed we were a pride...

In a future Britain, a stranglehold has been issued on cats after a human health epidemic is blamed on the feline population in this politically savvy, lightning-paced thriller.

Jade and her mum are misfits in their working-class neighborhood, where they’ve made their home since the unexpected death of Jade's wealthy father. When a lovely calico cat materializes in their garden one night, they impulsively decide to keep it, risking arrest. Jade quickly falls in love with her new pet, naming her Feela at her mother’s suggestion. When she reveals the animal’s existence to Kris, a boy in her class with whom she has a stormy relationship, it sets into motion a tragic series of events that result in the two of them fleeing with Feela into the countryside toward Ireland, where there's a cat amnesty. Penned in a simple, almost sparse style in first-person from Jade’s perspective, this foray into an imagined dystopia is extremely plot-driven. The limited details that emerge about the restrictive nature of the society flow naturally, but may leave readers wanting a bit more.

Earnest descriptions of Jade’s love for Feela and her burgeoning feelings for Kris—“It was if she sensed we were a pride now, a family, and our place was all together”—nicely balance the plentiful action. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8075-4364-1

Page Count: 268

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2014

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THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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