Otherwise, a smooth and not-too-scary page-turner, with room in its conclusion for a third installment.

FROM BAD TO CURSED

A group of social-climbing high-school girls makes a deal with a demon in this sassy, easily digestible horror story.

After saving her little sister Kasey from demonic possession in Bad Girls Don't Die (2009), pink-haired, confident Alexis hopes her time battling fiends is over. When Kasey starts high school, however, she falls in with the Sunshine Club, a group of girls who turn out to be involved with the demon Aralt, and Alexis, hoping to protect her sister, joins the club herself. Although it takes some time for Alexis to realize she has become possessed, her condition is no secret from readers. The author effectively blends Alexis' take-charge, nonconformist personality with Aralt's aggressively sunny, obsessively image-conscious influence. Life becomes easier with Aralt's help: Alexis heals quickly from injuries, manipulates her suspicious boyfriend and attracts the attention of well-placed adults, some of them also Aralt's devotees. The tension comes from watching Alexis' demon-fighting resolve weaken and uncovering clues about the true cost of Aralt's seeming benevolence. A few nasty fat jokes undercut the novel's ostensible stance against looks-related bullying, and using a girl who walks with a cane to represent the most desperate of losers is tasteless and unnecessary.

Otherwise, a smooth and not-too-scary page-turner, with room in its conclusion for a third installment. (Supernatural thriller. 12 & up)

Pub Date: June 14, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3471-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.

GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN

A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion.

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LONG WAY DOWN

After 15-year-old Will sees his older brother, Shawn, gunned down on the streets, he sets out to do the expected: the rules dictate no crying, no snitching, and revenge.

Though the African-American teen has never held one, Will leaves his apartment with his brother’s gun tucked in his waistband. As he travels down on the elevator, the door opens on certain floors, and Will is confronted with a different figure from his past, each a victim of gun violence, each important in his life. They also force Will to face the questions he has about his plan. As each “ghost” speaks, Will realizes how much of his own story has been unknown to him and how intricately woven they are. Told in free-verse poems, this is a raw, powerful, and emotional depiction of urban violence. The structure of the novel heightens the tension, as each stop of the elevator brings a new challenge until the narrative arrives at its taut, ambiguous ending. There is considerable symbolism, including the 15 bullets in the gun and the way the elevator rules parallel street rules. Reynolds masterfully weaves in textured glimpses of the supporting characters. Throughout, readers get a vivid picture of Will and the people in his life, all trying to cope with the circumstances of their environment while expressing the love, uncertainty, and hope that all humans share.

This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion. (Verse fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3825-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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