Less stark than The Giver (1993), this welcome addition to the dystopic utopia genre is a young cousin of Ally Condie’s...

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THE FIREFLY CODE

A girl realizes her suburban, corporate-run utopia has dark underpinnings.

Twelve-year-old Mori lives on a quaint cul-de-sac west of Boston, in a Kritopia (a utopia sponsored by the Krita Corp.), one of several around the world. She and her friends are partly free-range—they can take off on their bikes anytime—but everyone wears a nonremovable “watchu,” which tells time but also watches its wearer. At age 13, kids announce their “latency”—an inner skill that will be surgically released—and find out whether they’re “natural” (made from their parents’ DNA) or “designed” (made from cloned or modified DNA). Into this idyllic neighborhood comes new girl Ilana, who’s gorgeous and strong but doesn’t quite fit in. Ilana pauses oddly before answering questions, and unlike Mori, whose heritage is Japanese and Scottish, brown-skinned, chestnut-haired, green-eyed Ilana knows of no heritage. This society’s secrets aren’t gentle, but the text reveals them gently. The pacing is cautious—like Mori herself, though she vaguely remembers having been braver in the past. As Mori and the others break a huge rule, walking along abandoned train tracks toward the rough and scary city to save a friend’s life, readers will eagerly await the next installment.

Less stark than The Giver (1993), this welcome addition to the dystopic utopia genre is a young cousin of Ally Condie’s Matched (2010) and Mary Pearson’s The Adoration of Jenna Fox (2008). (Science fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61963-636-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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