A fun, tech-focused YA novel set in a futuristic yet familiar world.

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FROM THE SHADOWS

Two teenage friends from different parts of the United States embark on a high-tech adventure in Shaw’s (Neworld Papers: The Warriors’ Tale, 2016, etc.) YA sci-fi tale.

GundTech, the technology firm that revolutionized the world years ago with its cutting-edge communication and artificial-intelligence products, has a new device that’s poised to change everything once again. The Interactive Holographic Transporter allows users to experience a virtual reality so real that it may even be physically dangerous. For Cameron Rush in Wisconsin and Rosa Costas in New Mexico, the best part of the announcement involves the creation of an IHT Academy for teenagers like them. Although the two have never met in person and come from very different backgrounds, they’re both “geeks” (whether Cameron will admit it or not) who hang out via their GundTech multiComs. For them, the reward of getting accepted to the academy outweighs any potential risks. What they don’t know is that there are other forces at work behind the scenes. For one, the mysterious child prodigy behind GundTech’s inventions is grown up now and starting to realize that his well-intentioned products can cause unintended consequences. And the tech’s code still has some bugs, including some that are dangerous and others that that may have been planted by someone (or something) with his or her own agenda. Shaw has crafted a thought-provoking story that hints at issues that today’s youth already face, such as how technology can be a boon as well as a bane, but he never lets these topics overwhelm the joy of the overall story. Young readers will quickly relate to Cameron and Rosa as they get swept up in their virtual studies. However, the story sags a bit in the second half due to the introduction of a game called “time tag,” a neat idea, but one that distracts too much from the plot. Some readers may be dismayed at the all-too-abrupt ending, as well. But most will find this novel to be an intelligent, inspiring adventure with fully formed characters.

A fun, tech-focused YA novel set in a futuristic yet familiar world.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-692-37518-1

Page Count: 326

Publisher: iPulpFiction.com

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2017

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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