McCafferty knows her way around this age group; her depictions are pitch-perfect and will loudly resonate with girls facing...

JESSICA DARLING'S IT LIST 2

THE (TOTALLY NOT) GUARANTEED GUIDE TO FRIENDS, FOES & FAUX FRIENDS

Jessica Darling is back for a second funny and fluffy try at navigating the perils of seventh grade (Jessica Darling’s It List 1, 2013).

Her popular but ever-so-shallow older sister has provided a second short list—easy to misinterpret, it turns out—of pithy advice that is supposed to help Jessica identify true friends, foes and faux friends. Seventh grade offers a large collection of all of these. Her now-popular BFF Bridget has joined forces with their friend Dori, effectively excluding Jessica from their former threesome. Worse yet, Dori’s sure Jessica is making a play for her new boyfriend, Scotty. And Sara and Manda are sure to capitalize on any potential opening into the world of popularity, unconcerned, or perhaps even enjoying it, if Jessica becomes their hapless victim. Hope could be a friend; she’s hard to read. And then there are the boys: Both Scotty and Aleck may just have a thing for Jessica. The disastrous slumber party Jessica is cornered into hosting and her exclusion from two sets of group Halloween costumes worn by friends—or faux friends?—are so purely junior high behavior that if it weren’t all presented with ample humor, it might just be tragic.

McCafferty knows her way around this age group; her depictions are pitch-perfect and will loudly resonate with girls facing their own friends and foes. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-316-24504-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Poppy/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not for the faint of heart or stomach (or maybe of any parts) but sure to be appreciated by middle school zombie cognoscenti.

ZOMBIE BASEBALL BEATDOWN

Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle meets Left for Dead/The Walking Dead/Shaun of the Dead in a high-energy, high-humor look at the zombie apocalypse, complete with baseball (rather than cricket) bats.

The wholesome-seeming Iowa cornfields are a perfect setting for the emergence of ghastly anomalies: flesh-eating cows and baseball-coach zombies. The narrator hero, Rabi (for Rabindranath), and his youth baseball teammates and friends, Miguel and Joe, discover by chance that all is not well with their small town’s principal industry: the Milrow corporation’s giant feedlot and meat-production and -packing facility. The ponds of cow poo and crammed quarters for the animals are described in gaggingly smelly detail, and the bone-breaking, bloody, flesh-smashing encounters with the zombies have a high gross-out factor. The zombie cows and zombie humans who emerge from the muck are apparently a product of the food supply gone cuckoo in service of big-money profits with little concern for the end result. It’s up to Rabi and his pals to try to prove what’s going on—and to survive the corporation’s efforts to silence them. Much as Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker (2010) was a clarion call to action against climate change, here’s a signal alert to young teens to think about what they eat, while the considerable appeal of the characters and plot defies any preachiness.

Not for the faint of heart or stomach (or maybe of any parts) but sure to be appreciated by middle school zombie cognoscenti. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-22078-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more