Dedicated spy-thriller and sci-fi fans would probably be able to fill in the blanks, but it’s not worth the effort.

THE SANTA FE JAIL

From the Mortensen's Escapades series , Vol. 2

A disappointing second outing finds the titular time-traveling secret agent darting his way through a tangle of nefarious schemes so messy and incoherent that readers have no chance of following him.

A researcher (seemingly) kidnapped in 1973 for nebulous reasons…a mysterious meteoric metal mined in Tanzania in the 1920s and stolen by Nazis for never-explained purposes in 1942…a short hitchhike with the historical French “Black Cruise” through the Iringa rain forest in 1925…a discovery in conveniently untouched former Nazi offices in 1950 Denmark…a car chase and a double ambush in New Mexico….Switching decade and locale with a page turn or, sometimes, just between one panel and the next, Jakobsen pitches his ever-natty hero into and, with equal ease, out of one heavily contrived, tenuously related situation after another. Muddying the waters further, he also folds in supporting characters who either look too much alike to keep straight or are unrecognizable (with the exception of Einstein) caricatures of a suddenly-revealed “League of Extraordinary Scientists.”

Dedicated spy-thriller and sci-fi fans would probably be able to fill in the blanks, but it’s not worth the effort. (historical notes on rain forests, Nazi plunder and other related topics, with period images, appended) (Graphic science fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8225-9421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.

A GIRL, A RACCOON, AND THE MIDNIGHT MOON

This is the way Pearl’s world ends: not with a bang but with a scream.

Pearl Moran was born in the Lancaster Avenue branch library and considers it more her home than the apartment she shares with her mother, the circulation librarian. When the head of the library’s beloved statue of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay is found to be missing, Pearl’s scream brings the entire neighborhood running. Thus ensues an enchanting plunge into the underbelly of a failing library and a city brimful of secrets. With the help of friends old, uncertainly developing, and new, Pearl must spin story after compelling story in hopes of saving what she loves most. Indeed, that love—of libraries, of books, and most of all of stories—suffuses the entire narrative. Literary references are peppered throughout (clarified with somewhat superfluous footnotes) in addition to a variety of tangential sidebars (the identity of whose writer becomes delightfully clear later on). Pearl is an odd but genuine narrator, possessed of a complex and emotional inner voice warring with a stridently stubborn outer one. An array of endearing supporting characters, coupled with a plot both grounded in stressful reality and uplifted by urban fantasy, lend the story its charm. Both the neighborhood and the library staff are robustly diverse. Pearl herself is biracial; her “long-gone father” was black and her mother is white. Bagley’s spot illustrations both reinforce this and add gentle humor.

The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.   (reading list) (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6952-1

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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Kibuishi gives his epic tale a hefty nudge toward its long-building climax while giving readers plenty of reasons to stick...

SUPERNOVA

From the Amulet series , Vol. 8

Stonekeeper Emily frees the elves from their monstrous masked ruler and sets out to rejoin her brother and mother in the series’ penultimate episode.

The multistranded storyline picks up with Emily’s return to the world of Alledia. Now a fiery, destructive phoenix struggling to regain control of her actions, Emily goes on to follow her brother Navin and allies as they battle invading shadows on the nearby world of Typhon, then switches back to human form for a climactic confrontation with the Elf King—in the course of which Emily rips off his mask to a chorus of “ERGH!! NO!!! GRAH! RRGH!! AAAGH!” to expose a rousingly hideous face. Cute animal heads on many figures (the result of a curse) and a scene with benevolent-looking trees provide at least a bit of relief from the grim expressions that all the human and humanoid elven characters almost invariably wear. But along with emphatic sound effects, the battle and action scenes in the cleanly drawn, if sometimes cramped, panels feature huge blasts of fire or energy, intricately detailed giant robots, weirdly eyeless monsters, and wild escapades aplenty to keep the pace’s pedal to the metal. Aliens and AIs in the cast come in a variety of hues, elves are a uniform gray, and except for a brief encounter between Emily and a slightly darker lad, the (uncursed) humans default to white.

Kibuishi gives his epic tale a hefty nudge toward its long-building climax while giving readers plenty of reasons to stick around for it. (Graphic fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-545-85002-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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