An exceptionally fun read.

DOOM IN THE DEEP

From the Camp Murderface series , Vol. 2

There’s something in the water in the creature-feature sequel to Camp Murderface (2020).

After unraveling the haunting of Lake Sweetwater and helping the ghosts to rest, Tez is ready to kick back and make the most of the few weeks of summer camp they have left. Corryn, however, is convinced the horror’s merely on hiatus. When Ew tells Corryn her strange dreams about the lake, Corryn’s on high alert and the first to notice the counselors’ fixation with getting kids in the lake—and the subsequent memory loss experienced by those kids. While the dual narration works well for filling in missing memories, sometimes it results in repetitive exposition, and it may put readers too far ahead of the characters in solving parts of the mystery. Once too much dangerous weirdness piles up, the heroes’ bunkmates want to join the team, which they dub the Murderfaces. The characters’ humor and interpersonal dynamics keep the book lively in the face of injuries and body horror. Tez’s Marfan syndrome enhances his vulnerability throughout. The grand finale is a lengthy summer blockbuster of a climax in which, despite help from unexpected sources, it’s up to the kids to save themselves. The camp population has implied diversity; Corynn presents as White, and Tez’s grandmother is from Guam (the rest of his heritage is not specified). The end hints at some horror remaining after the happy denouement.

An exceptionally fun read. (Horror. 8-14)

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-287166-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

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THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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