A tense, engrossing story that effectively captures the suspicion and paranoia that prevailed during American history’s...

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SUSPECT RED

This historical novel revisits the anxious, fearful time of the Cold War, when blacklists, political profiling, and guilt by association ruined the lives of thousands of innocent people and deeply divided the nation.

Elliott sets the story in 1953, when the Red Scare is at its peak. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed for spying for the Soviet Union, the “Hollywood 10” are sentenced to prison for refusing to name names, and Sen. Joseph McCarthy recklessly exposes people he deems subversives and communist sympathizers. Richard, the teenage son of an FBI agent living in Washington, D.C., belongs to a white family of patriotic true believers in 1950s-era American values. When a family from Czechoslovakia moves in down the street, Richard befriends a son his age named Vlad, who shares his musical tastes and passion for literature. The family’s bold, unconventional ideas about art and politics prompt Richard to question many of his preconceived notions about patriotism. When Vlad’s father’s loyalty is questioned and comes under investigation, Richard is forced to confront his beliefs about friendship and betrayal. Interspersed throughout the narrative are photos, news headlines, ads, quotes, and political cartoons from the era that offer insightful historical context to the story in a documentary style that resembles that of Deborah Wiles’ novels Countdown (2010) and Revolution (2014).

A tense, engrossing story that effectively captures the suspicion and paranoia that prevailed during American history’s darkest chapters. (Historical fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5754-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Not for the faint of heart or stomach (or maybe of any parts) but sure to be appreciated by middle school zombie cognoscenti.

ZOMBIE BASEBALL BEATDOWN

Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle meets Left for Dead/The Walking Dead/Shaun of the Dead in a high-energy, high-humor look at the zombie apocalypse, complete with baseball (rather than cricket) bats.

The wholesome-seeming Iowa cornfields are a perfect setting for the emergence of ghastly anomalies: flesh-eating cows and baseball-coach zombies. The narrator hero, Rabi (for Rabindranath), and his youth baseball teammates and friends, Miguel and Joe, discover by chance that all is not well with their small town’s principal industry: the Milrow corporation’s giant feedlot and meat-production and -packing facility. The ponds of cow poo and crammed quarters for the animals are described in gaggingly smelly detail, and the bone-breaking, bloody, flesh-smashing encounters with the zombies have a high gross-out factor. The zombie cows and zombie humans who emerge from the muck are apparently a product of the food supply gone cuckoo in service of big-money profits with little concern for the end result. It’s up to Rabi and his pals to try to prove what’s going on—and to survive the corporation’s efforts to silence them. Much as Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker (2010) was a clarion call to action against climate change, here’s a signal alert to young teens to think about what they eat, while the considerable appeal of the characters and plot defies any preachiness.

Not for the faint of heart or stomach (or maybe of any parts) but sure to be appreciated by middle school zombie cognoscenti. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-22078-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Clever as ever—if slow off the mark—and positively laden with tics, quirks, and puns.

THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY AND THE RIDDLE OF AGES

From the Mysterious Benedict Society series , Vol. 4

When deadly minions of archvillain Ledroptha Curtain escape from prison, the talented young protégés of his twin brother, Nicholas Benedict, reunite for a new round of desperate ploys and ingenious trickery.

Stewart sets the reunion of cerebral Reynie Muldoon Perumal, hypercapable Kate Wetherall, shy scientific genius George “Sticky” Washington, and spectacularly sullen telepath Constance Contraire a few years after the previous episode, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma (2009). Providing relief from the quartet’s continual internecine squabbling and self-analysis, he trucks in Tai Li, a grubby, precociously verbal 5-year-old orphan who also happens to be telepathic. (Just to even the playing field a bit, the bad guys get a telepath too.) Series fans will know to be patient in wading through all the angst, arguments, and flurries of significant nose-tapping (occasionally in unison), for when the main action does at long last get under way—the five don’t even set out from Mr. Benedict’s mansion together until more than halfway through—the Society returns to Nomansan Island (get it?), the site of their first mission, for chases, narrow squeaks, hastily revised stratagems, and heroic exploits that culminate in a characteristically byzantine whirl of climactic twists, triumphs, and revelations. Except for brown-skinned George and olive-complected, presumably Asian-descended Tai, the central cast defaults to white; Reynie’s adoptive mother is South Asian.

Clever as ever—if slow off the mark—and positively laden with tics, quirks, and puns. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-45264-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Megan Tingley/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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