PLB 0-7868-2401-8 In a work of science fiction, Lasky (A Brilliant Streak, 1998, etc.) tackles both the morality of human cloning and the potential for people to cover their tracks through the time-honored tradition of manipulating language. Darci has grown up believing she’s a “Genhant,” or genetically enhanced human, one of the privileged people in a future society where all babies are to some degree genetically planned. She doesn’t understand why she is attracted to the “Originals,” people with only minimal genetic alterations, or why she is interested in the meaning of words others take for granted. Through careful plotting, Lasky throws readers some intriguing “ethical” bones to chew on, e.g., when Darci comes face to face with her own clone, are they exactly the same person or is there some intrinsic difference’something like a soul? Can language cover up as well as it can explain? These intellectual tussles will foster discussion, especially since the issues are already part of the public forum. If the story has weaknesses, it is in some of its assumptions, e.g., that hundreds of years into the future, societal structures such as the nuclear family will still exist, when even today it seems to be crumbling. (Fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7868-0459-9

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1999

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In a well-written gambol through weirdness, Skinner (The Wrecker, 1995, etc.) offers four highly imaginative short stories about young people with supernatural powers. In the first story, Jenny can change the world, and change history, by changing the maps she draws. The narrator, Laurie, knows Jenny is out of control, and when Jenny creates a second sun and splits the earth in two, Laurie is ready to act. The second story is about a world where people “bop”—instant travel just by thinking of a location—instead of walking from one place to another. Mae, however, either can’t bop, or won’t, a prospect that intrigues the narrator. In the third tale, Meredith, who has a supernatural connection with the planet Pluto, and Dexter, who is able to spray-paint with his mind, unite their powers. In the fourth and longest story, Jake finds himself deeply in love with a religious girl, Louise, and both of them are tempted by the powers a metahuman, Nina, has bestowed upon them. All four stories will captivate readers, and may even get them thinking about deeper ideas. Skinner’s often humorous portrayal of young adolescents is on target, and while the stories resemble writing exercises, lacking the sustained, pulse-pounding poetic turns of his novels, they are consistently entertaining. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-80556-X

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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From McLaren (Inside the Walls of Troy, 1996, etc.), a riveting page-turner that once again brings a feminine perspective to a classical adventure: Odysseus’s journey as seen by his wife, Penelope; the witch, Circe; the goddess, Athena; and a trusted family servant, Eurycleia. The unique first-person narrative revives Homer’s ancient tale, making it newly believable and enjoyable to read. The tale begins with the meeting of Penelope and Odysseus and Penelope’s forthright desire to have him for her husband. Helen’s vanity is apparent in this version, and Circe’s disdain of all mortal men—because of a bad marriage—is explained. The goddess Athena acts as Odysseus’s guide, mentor, and protector. In the end comes the realization that not only did Odysseus make a journey, but so did Penelope, managing an estate for 20 years, raising a son on her own, and serving unruly guests without complaint; her commitment to Odysseus is continually tested by his delayed return, but she regains control in the end when she tricks the ultimate trickster (Odysseus) with her own test regarding the removal of the olive tree bed. Full of such twists and turns, this book shines new light on mythic figures and their voyages, and may send voracious readers back to the original. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-82875-6

Page Count: 149

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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