Breathless pace can't compensate for murky plotting and uneasy moral underpinnings.

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REVENGE

From the Jason Steed series , Vol. 2

Jason Steed, an 11-year-old Brit who appears to be the next James Bond in the making, returns for his second book (The Fledgling, 2010).

Jason continues his independent role as a secret asset for Scotland Yard, this time going up against the lethal Triads, who are bilking millions of pounds out of an unsuspecting British public. The Triads want to overthrow the Chinese government and take control of the largest nation in the world, just the first step toward eventual global domination. It’s up to Jason to infiltrate the Triads by befriending the criminal son of one of its leaders, which leads him down a path of murder and mayhem he may not be able to pull back from. When his own government betrays him, he’s on the run across Europe, dodging assassins from all sides while trying to save the life of a Chinese girl who could be the key to it all. While this sequel is jam-packed with one action sequence after another (to the detriment of clarity), it has lost the balance of its predecessor. Jason is asked to kill at will, taking out the innocent as well as the guilty with apparently no compunction. The novel takes place in 1974, and it is unlikely that today’s young readers will understand references to Mao or Chinese population control.

Breathless pace can't compensate for murky plotting and uneasy moral underpinnings.   (Adventure. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4022-6429-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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A waggish tale with a serious (and timely) theme.

KATT VS. DOGG

An age-old rivalry is reluctantly put aside when two young vacationers are lost in the wilderness.

Anthropomorphic—in body if definitely not behavior—Dogg Scout Oscar and pampered Molly Hissleton stray from their separate camps, meet by chance in a trackless magic forest, and almost immediately recognize that their only chance of survival, distasteful as the notion may be, lies in calling a truce. Patterson and Grabenstein really work the notion here that cooperation is better than prejudice founded on ignorance and habit, interspersing explicit exchanges on the topic while casting the squabbling pair with complementary abilities that come out as they face challenges ranging from finding food to escaping such predators as a mountain lion and a pack of vicious “weaselboars.” By the time they cross a wide river (on a raft steered by “Old Jim,” an otter whose homespun utterances are generally cribbed from Mark Twain—an uneasy reference) back to civilization, the two are BFFs. But can that friendship survive the return, with all the social and familial pressures to resume the old enmity? A climactic cage-match–style confrontation before a worked-up multispecies audience provides the answer. In the illustrations (not seen in finished form) López plops wide-eyed animal heads atop clothed, more or less human forms and adds dialogue balloons for punchlines.

A waggish tale with a serious (and timely) theme. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-41156-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Not a stand-alone, unlike the opener, but still a worthy tale built around a core of clashing cultures and shared human...

THE RAIDERS

From the Inuk Quartet series , Vol. 2

The second episode in the Danish author's Inuk Quartet sends young Icelander Leiv and his Inuit friends on a new mission of vengeance after Viking raiders plunder his newfound Greenland home.

They have spent an idyllic spring and summer recovering from the trek in Shipwreck (2011); it's been interrupted only by a quick clash with a longship captained by the brutal Thorleifsson brothers. Now, Apuluk and Narua set out to rejoin their nomadic clan with Leiv in tow. That friendly visit turns into a punitive expedition after the Thorleifssons massacre most of a native settlement and loot Leiv's new home. The translated narrative reads smoothly, and high production values result in a handsome, open page design. Its visual appeal is enhanced by Cann's stylized but crisply drawn and richly colored images of arctic wildlife and fur-clad human residents. Though wordy descriptions of seasonal cycles and farm life slow down the first several chapters, the pacing picks up on the way to a violent climax, gory ends for the bad guys, and (pointing to developments in volumes to come) Leiv's decision to explore northward in search of a land route to fabled Vinland.

Not a stand-alone, unlike the opener, but still a worthy tale built around a core of clashing cultures and shared human values.   (Historical fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-84686-744-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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