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Whyman’s British Addams Family of man-eaters certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste, but for those who like their humor...

Dinner with the Savages can be murder.

Sixteen-year-old Sasha Savage has a new boyfriend. Jack is a year ahead of her in school, but that’s not what causes a family controversy: He’s a vegetarian, and the Savages are…well, they’re cannibals. Ever since Grandpa was in the siege of Leningrad, the family has ritualistically, on occasion, feasted on human flesh, but they are always respectful to the source and waste as little as possible. Sasha’s father, Titus, was born and raised in England. He’s a predatory businessman; he orchestrates hostile takeovers of companies. It’s this practice that has private detective Vernon English tailing Titus. Then a model fatally falls prey to a prank directed at Sasha by her younger brother, Ivan. Vernon doesn’t know the specifics behind her disappearance, but he’s sure something more than illegal business deals is going on. Can Sasha introduce her controversial boyfriend to the family, and can they all keep Vernon from finding out the family’s culinary peculiarity? Making fun of foodies and vegetarians alike, this is neither a laugh riot nor a page-turning thriller, but readers seeking a little grisly diversion may be entertained.

Whyman’s British Addams Family of man-eaters certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste, but for those who like their humor very, very dry, it may just hit the spot. (Fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: March 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4683-0856-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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Sensitive subject matter that could have benefited from a subtler, more sober touch.

A Jewish girl joins up with Polish resistance groups to fight for her people against the evils of the Holocaust.

Chaya Lindner is forcibly separated from her family when they are consigned to the Jewish ghetto in Krakow. The 16-year-old is taken in by the leaders of Akiva, a fledgling Jewish resistance group that offers her the opportunity to become a courier, using her fair coloring to pass for Polish and sneak into ghettos to smuggle in supplies and information. Chaya’s missions quickly become more dangerous, taking her on a perilous journey from a disastrous mission in Krakow to the ghastly ghetto of Lodz and eventually to Warsaw to aid the Jews there in their gathering uprising inside the walls of the ghetto. Through it all, she is partnered with a secretive young girl whom she is reluctant to trust. The trajectory of the narrative skews toward the sensational, highlighting moments of resistance via cinematic action sequences but not pausing to linger on the emotional toll of the Holocaust’s atrocities. Younger readers without sufficient historical knowledge may not appreciate the gravity of the events depicted. The principal characters lack depth, and their actions and the situations they find themselves in often require too much suspension of disbelief to pass for realism.

Sensitive subject matter that could have benefited from a subtler, more sober touch. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-14847-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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Overwrought and half baked.

After a popular cheerleader plunges to her death, her younger sister forges an unexpected relationship with the boy responsible.

Brady’s sister Sabine died on the floor of their high school gym from a broken neck when she failed to complete a complicated flip. Brady and her family blame Sabine’s lift partner, Connor Christopher, for not catching her. But after Connor helps Brady with her car one wintry afternoon, she does an about-face and decides he’s not that bad a guy after all. Brady’s feelings about Connor are confirmed when Sabine’s cellphone voice mail reveals dark truths about her bright sister: Sabine was pregnant, her perfect boyfriend, Nick, verbally abused her, and Connor was the only one who knew. The question of what Brady will do with this information is complicated by the underdeveloped subplots of her parents’ deteriorating marriage, her loss of a prestigious school art prize, and her best friend Martha’s decision to date Sabine’s abusive ex. All of this leads to a bizarre climax in which Brady hurls some of Sabine’s cremains at Nick after he drugs and kidnaps Martha, obliterating any suspension of disbelief. While the initial premise is intriguing, the story is crippled by self-conscious dialogue, abrupt transitions and the fact that all relevant information is spelled out instead of shown.   

Overwrought and half baked. (Fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62681-167-6

Page Count: 214

Publisher: Diversion Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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