A baroque premise fuels a reasonably adventuresome middle volume.

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ISLAND OF THE SUN

From the Dark Gravity Sequence series , Vol. 2

With the all-powerful Global Energy Trust hot on the trail, this sequel to The Arctic Code (2015) finds Eleanor and her ragtag band of allies mounting assaults on more of the alien devices that are rapidly forcing Earth into an ice age by sucking up its “telluric energy.”

Eluding armed G.E.T. agents as they go, the fugitives leave Alaska’s deep freeze behind to fly south toward Lake Titicaca—pausing, in an ironic touch, to gape at Mexico City’s massive sprawl of refugees from icy North America. The eldritch Concentrator is buried at a nexus of ley lines deep within submerged Incan ruins, and reaching it so that Eleanor can mentally kill the artificial intelligence that operates it isn’t going to be easy. Nor, for that matter, will escaping afterward, as betrayal leaves some group members in G.E.T. hands. Next stop: Luxor, another Concentrator, and another narrow escape. The author shoehorns in so much continuing conflict between Eleanor and her overprotective mother (both white), and also between another scientist and his two biracial sons (black/white), that the story often seems more about parent-child issues than saving the planet. Still, as Eleanor leads the way toward the Himalayas and a possibly climactic attack on the last and most powerful Concentrator, she’ll plainly be facing a new cascade of deadly dangers and soul-wrenching choices.

A baroque premise fuels a reasonably adventuresome middle volume. (Science fiction/fantasy hybrid. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-222490-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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This weave of perceptive, well-told tales wears its agenda with unusual grace.

WAR STORIES

Two young people of different generations get profound lessons in the tragic, enduring legacy of war.

Raised on the thrilling yarns of his great-grandpa Jacob and obsessed with both World War II and first-person–shooter video games, Trevor is eager to join the 93-year-old vet when he is invited to revisit the French town his unit had helped to liberate. In alternating chapters, the overseas trip retraces the parallel journeys of two young people—Trevor, 12, and Jacob, in 1944, just five years older—with similarly idealized visions of what war is like as they travel both then and now from Fort Benning to Omaha Beach and then through Normandy. Jacob’s wartime experiences are an absorbing whirl of hard fighting, sudden death, and courageous acts spurred by necessity…but the modern trip turns suspenseful too, as mysterious stalkers leave unsettling tokens and a series of hostile online posts that hint that Jacob doesn’t have just German blood on his hands. Korman acknowledges the widely held view of World War II as a just war but makes his own sympathies plain by repeatedly pointing to the unavoidable price of conflict: “Wars may have winning sides, but everybody loses.” Readers anticipating a heavy-handed moral will appreciate that Trevor arrives at a refreshingly realistic appreciation of video games’ pleasures and limitations. As his dad puts it: “War makes a better video game….But if you’re looking for a way to live, I’ll take peace every time.”

This weave of perceptive, well-told tales wears its agenda with unusual grace. (Fiction/historical fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-29020-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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