Squash this worm.

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WUFTOOM

In this unfulfilling fable, a young boy transforms into a worm and is thrust into a war against his will.

Evan has been bedridden for two years with a disease that has caused him to become sensitive to light and his limbs to fuse. No doctor can cure him, because he’s changing into a large grub called a Wuftoom. As he transforms, Evan is torn between the Wuftoom and their sworn enemies, the giant Vitflys, who want Evan to act as their spy among the worms. Once in their underground sewer camp, Evan must decide whether to betray the Wuftoom in order to save his mother, who is being held hostage by the Vitflys. While the unusual premise initially intrigues, Thompson’s earnest tone quickly wears thin, and her worldbuilding is unconvincing. The origins of the Wuftoom are given scant explanation: “We have lived since the earliest men came to this place. No one knows how the first one appeared. But we spread through the greed of men.” The legions of Wuftoom are mostly indistinguishable, and the rather tepid ending is equally disappointing. It’s unclear if the author meant to pen a Metamorphosis for kids or a creepy horror story, but the resulting novel doesn’t work as either.

Squash this worm. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-63724-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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What’s ultimately lacking, though, is a compelling link between myth and contemporary tale.

GIL MARSH

Smart, handsome, athletic Gil Marsh, 17, hero of this contemporary take on the Gilgamesh epic (and first literary bromance) thinks he has no competition. Then hirsute Enko Labette shows up at Uruk High.

More than Gil’s equal, Enko’s popular, too. Infuriated, Gil provokes a physical confrontation that clears the air and, as the cliché provides, cements an intense, lasting bond between them. As in the epic, Bauer offers hints but ultimately punts on whether that bond is sexual. (Both date girls, but the boys’ passionate friendship is paramount.) After a few brief adventures, Enko succumbs to a sudden illness and dies. Grief-stricken, Gil flees high school in Connecticut for Canada, seeking Enko’s grave and the provenance of the garnet ring, a family heirloom, Enko gave him. Here the plot slows to a crawl. Though interspersed with evocative tidbits of Québécois history and culture, Gil’s quest, goals and expectations lack urgency and clarity. Does he really believe he can restore Enko to life? Enko himself fades into irrelevance as Gil’s focus turns to daily survival. Simple vocabulary, staccato style and straightforward syntax convey classic appeal and make this a good choice for reluctant readers. Genuine strengths include a likable hero and vivid sense of place.

What’s ultimately lacking, though, is a compelling link between myth and contemporary tale. (French glossary, author’s note) (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86933-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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ZOMBIES VS. UNICORNS

Forget vampires vs. werewolves; the hottest feud is between fans of the fiercely magical horses and the shambling, brain-eating undead. Adopting tones from humorous to haunting, tender to terrifying, and settings ranging from the fairy-tale past to modern suburbia to dystopian day-after-tomorrow, twelve YA authors (both up-and-coming and superstar) explore the mythic potential of each otherworldly creature. Team Zombie offers up both sweetly creepy romances between the living and not-quite-dead and chilling examinations of adolescence after the Zombie Apocalypse. Standouts for Team Unicorn include an inspirational tale of the reluctant heroine born to slay monsters and the baby maneater she loves and a poignant, piercing analysis of the corrosive price demanded by the power to heal. A healthy dose of graphic gore and plenty of love and lust (including same-sex and different-species pairings) push this collection into the older teen range. The editors chime in with wonderfully snarky cheerleading and a bit of insightful commentary along the way. Who is the victor in this epic smackdown? Readers, of course! (Fantasy/horror/short stories. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4169-8953-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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