Pass on this one.

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THE RED RIBBON

Historical fiction about the high-fashion tailoring studio where Nazis enslaved prisoners on the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Ella is a yellow star–wearing prisoner at the camp she calls Birchwood, where she’s managed to get a labor assignment in the tailoring studio. Though the “prominent” (a fellow prisoner empowered to boss around other inmates) can be cruel, it’s a safer task than many of the jobs available at the death camp. Ella’s lied about her age to get the position, but she hasn’t had to lie about her talent; she is genuinely a smashing seamstress. Ella’s sometimes-unbelievable naiveté about the camp (she asks when she can write to her grandmother at home) enables her to willfully ignore how much her dressmaking enthusiasm smacks of collaboration. Not so her friend Rose, a political prisoner and fellow dressmaker. Unlike Ella, Rose understands that their supplies are stolen from the Nazi’s victims. Though Ella’s eyes eventually open to horror, especially as Rose’s health falters and Birchwood descends into chaos in the waning days of the war, her unreliability as a narrator makes the camps appear less horrific than the reality. The avoidance of specific references to Jews or Germany in a story about atrocities that targeted very specific groups of people strips this Holocaust narrative of both believability and historical accuracy.

Pass on this one. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0104-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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

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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

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