A powerful, bleak, and penetrating portrait of an isolated young woman excelling in unimaginable danger


From the Orphan Monster Spy series , Vol. 1

A half-Jewish girl in Nazi Germany passes up a chance to escape in favor of the opportunity to screw with Nazis.

Sarah’s mother is shot as they try to flee, but a stranger in a dark warehouse gives the bleeding, grieving Sarah good advice to avoid detection. When Sarah later sees the stranger being harassed by the police, she interrupts her own planned escape to save him. Her new ally, she learns, is a British spy, and she defies his attempt to help her to freedom. Wouldn’t it be better to stay and hurt the Nazis? Fifteen-year-old blonde Sarah looks not only Aryan but young: she’s as small as an 11-year-old. Home-schooled by her mother (who was an actress before the Nuremberg Laws left her unemployed, alcoholic, and abusive), Sarah’s skilled at playacting and languages. She’s even turned her gymnastics experience into a kind of parkour to avoid anti-Semitic violence and steal food. In other words, she’s a perfect spy. Disguised as the 13-year-old daughter of a Nazi official, she infiltrates an elite school. If she can befriend one of her classmates, the daughter of a nuclear physicist, she might save the Allies. Killeen’s thriller is cold, exciting, and well-paced, but its major plot point—the physicist’s independent development of a superweapon—is so James Bond it undercuts the real-world horror that was the Holocaust. Sarah’s coming-of-age and psychological crisis are so well-drawn, however, that the plot’s flaws are forgivable.

A powerful, bleak, and penetrating portrait of an isolated young woman excelling in unimaginable danger . (Historical thriller. 13-16)

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47873-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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A purple page turner.


From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Clockwork Angel (2010) pits gorgeous, attractively broken teens against a menacing evil.

There's betrayal, mayhem and clockwork monstrosities, and the Shadowhunters have only two weeks to discover—oh, who are we kidding? The plot is only surprisingly tasty icing on this cupcake of a melodramatic love triangle. Our heroes are Tessa, who may or may not be a warlock, and the beautiful Shadowhunter warrior boys who are moths to her forbidden flame. It's not always clear why Tessa prefers Will to his beloved (and only) friend Jem, the dying, silver-eyed, biracial sweetheart with the face of an angel. Jem, after all, is gentle and kind, her dearest confidante; Will is unpleasant to everyone around him. But poor, wretched Will—who "would have been pretty if he had not been so tall and so muscular"—has a deep, dark, thoroughly emo secret. His trauma puts all previous romantic difficulties to shame, from the Capulet/Montague feud all the way to Edward Cullen's desire to chomp on Bella Swan. Somehow there's room for an interesting steampunk mystery amid all this angst. The supporting characters (unusually well-developed for a love-triangle romance) include multiple compelling young women who show strength in myriad ways. So what if there are anachronisms, character inconsistencies and weird tonal slips? There's too much overwrought fun to care.

A purple page turner. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7588-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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Though no punches are pulled about the unimaginable atrocity of the death camps, a life-affirming history

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  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner


A teenage girl imprisoned in Auschwitz keeps the secret library of a forbidden school.

Dita Adlerova, 14, is confined in the notorious extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Compared to her fellow inmates, Dita’s relatively lucky. The several thousand residents of camp BIIb are inexplicably allowed to keep their own clothing, their hair, and, most importantly, their children. A young man named Fredy Hirsch maintains a school in BIIb, right under the noses of the Nazis. In Fredy’s classroom, Dita discovers something wonderful: a dangerous collection of eight smuggled books. The tale, based on the real life of Dita Polach Kraus and the events of 1944 and 1945, intertwines the stories of several real people: Dita, Fredy, several little-known war heroes, even a grim cameo from Anne and Margot Frank. Holocaust-knowledgeable readers will have suspicions about how many characters will die horribly (spoiler alert: this is Auschwitz). Yet somehow, myriad storylines told by multiple narrators offer compelling narrative tension. Why does BIIb exist? Will Rudi and Alice have a romance? What’s Fredy’s secret? Will Dr. Mengele subject Dita to his grotesque experiments? Dita’s matter-of-fact perspective, set in a slow build from BIIb to the chaotic starvation of the war’s end, both increases the horror and makes it bearable to read.

Though no punches are pulled about the unimaginable atrocity of the death camps, a life-affirming history . (Historical fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-618-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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