It’s the haunting details of those around Kai that readers will remember.

READ REVIEW

UP FROM THE SEA

Kai’s life is upended when his coastal village is devastated in Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami in this verse novel from an author who experienced them firsthand.

With his single mother, her parents, and his friend Ryu among the thousands missing or dead, biracial Kai, 17, is dazed and disoriented. His friend Shin’s supportive, but his intact family reminds Kai, whose American dad has been out of touch for years, of his loss. Kai’s isolation is amplified by his uncertain cultural status. Playing soccer and his growing friendship with shy Keiko barely lessen his despair. Then he’s invited to join a group of Japanese teens traveling to New York to meet others who as teenagers lost parents in the 9/11 attacks a decade earlier. Though at first reluctant, Kai agrees to go and, in the process, begins to imagine a future. Like graphic novels, today’s spare novels in verse (the subgenre concerning disasters especially) are significantly shaped by what’s left out. Lacking art’s visceral power to grab attention, verse novels may—as here—feel sparsely plotted with underdeveloped characters portrayed from a distance in elegiac monotone. Kai’s a generic figure, a coat hanger for the disaster’s main event, his victories mostly unearned; in striking contrast, his rural Japanese community and how they endure catastrophe and overwhelming losses—what they do and don’t do for one another, comforts they miss, kindnesses they value—spring to life.

It’s the haunting details of those around Kai that readers will remember. (author preface, afterword) (Verse fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-53474-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.

A MAP OF DAYS

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more