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This YA sci-fi debut sees an alien criminal exiled to Earth with dire—and hilarious—consequences.
Ixdahan Daherek (also spelled Daharek), an eight-tentacled Snaldrialooran, has illegally downloaded information from the Ministry of Defense and sold it to the Vrukaari, a rival species. He only did so because his father cut his allowance in half. As punishment, Ixdahan is placed in a transmog chamber, turned into the 17-year-old human Derek Dixon, and sent to live on Earth. There, robot parents will help him pass for a normal teenager. Derek’s arrival by spaceship, however, is witnessed by Lena Gabrilowicz. She’s on her dad’s boat in Felicity Bay when she loses consciousness, only to wake with empty beer cans in hand and a note nearby saying, “No one will believe you.” But she eventually meets the socially inept Derek and, at Skudderton High School, bonds with him despite his stilted speech and crush on her best friend, Callie Ann. Things don’t get truly weird until Lena is hospitalized for a fungal infection on her hands and extra “mutant” mailboxes begin appearing all over Skudderton and the world. Once Derek’s robot parents start malfunctioning, he suspects that the belligerent Vrukaari plan to invade—and it’s all his fault. Author Laporta sets up his snarky epic quickly, establishing Earth as a backwater “Level 2 civilization,” full of “ape-descended, gas-breathing bipeds.” Derek’s robot parents are equally amusing, often speaking with exaggerated cheer: “Finally made it up, Sleepy Head?” But the real joy of this narrative is watching Derek grow to care for the supposedly inferior earthlings, especially Lena, who’s a “sentient creature like himself, curious about the texture of the universe and the meaning of life.” And, holding it all together is Laporta’s spot-on portrayal of life as a teen; while Lena looks forward to a career in either oceanography or metal sculpting, high school is a “snarling beast that devoured her time, slurped down her energy and roared for more.” A bittersweet ending rounds off this fabulous read.

An irresistible blend of wonky science and heartfelt storytelling.

Pub Date: June 11, 2013

ISBN: 9780692239841

Page Count: 191

Publisher: Chickadee Prince Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2014

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From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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