Adventurous, thought-provoking, fast-paced, and subtly hilarious—in short, a delight to read.

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MAX THE MOUSE AND THE SECRET OF MARS

Cantwell (My Friend Casey, 2015, etc.) offers a children’s story of a courageous mouse’s journey to Mars that’s part adventure and part political satire.

A mouse named Max has an owner, Melissa, who treats him kindly and trains him well, and in time, he becomes quite intelligent. But one day, his curiosity gets the best of him, and he escapes through the backyard fence and becomes lost in the city. He finds a group of friendly mice and soon becomes their leader, first directing them out of the dangerous city into the forest and then from the dangerous forest to Mars by balloon. But although the environment of the great red planet seems conducive to their survival, its inhabitants, unfortunately, are not. Robotic mice immediately take Max and his friends captive, and the mechanical royal family sentences them to be executed. The pretentious Princess Bling Bling, however, takes a liking to Max, and after sharing with him the history of her people on Mars, she offers to keep him alive—as her pet. But Max, concerned about his friends, tries to find a way to save them and escape the clutches of the dangerous Mars mice. The book teaches kids about the importance of caring for the environment and the danger of letting technology run one’s life. This is mainly shown through the history of the robotic mice; they were preceded by the Monkey People (symbolic of humans), who were destroyed by laziness and environmental abuse, and the Computer People (symbolic of technology), who eventually destroyed one another. The book also features unique, lovable characters and a quirky sense of humor; adults will get a kick out of Senator Blabbermouth, who keeps a hot air balloon afloat with rambling speeches full of “hot air”: “I promise you free cheese, chocolates for dessert, no taxes...blah, blah, blah.” The book also provides a secondary story about Melissa that’s brilliantly woven throughout Max’s tale. The charming illustrations effectively highlight major events and match the text’s silly tone.

Adventurous, thought-provoking, fast-paced, and subtly hilarious—in short, a delight to read.

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5320-0944-0

Page Count: 108

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

THE ANDROMEDA EVOLUTION

Over 50 years after an extraterrestrial microbe wiped out a small Arizona town, something very strange has appeared in the Amazon jungle in Wilson’s follow-up to Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain.

The microparticle's introduction to Earth in 1967 was the disastrous result of an American weapons research program. Before it could be contained, Andromeda killed all but two people in tiny Piedmont, Arizona; during testing after the disaster, AS-1 evolved and escaped into the atmosphere. Project Eternal Vigilance was quickly set up to scan for any possible new outbreaks of Andromeda. Now, an anomaly with “signature peaks” closely resembling the original Andromeda Strain has been spotted in the heart of the Amazon, and a Wildfire Alert is issued. A diverse team is assembled: Nidhi Vedala, an MIT nanotechnology expert born in a Mumbai slum; Harold Odhiambo, a Kenyan xenogeologist; Peng Wu, a Chinese doctor and taikonaut; Sophie Kline, a paraplegic astronaut and nanorobotics expert based on the International Space Station; and, a last-minute addition, roboticist James Stone, son of Dr. Jeremy Stone from The Andromeda Strain. They must journey into the deepest part of the jungle to study and hopefully contain the dire threat that the anomaly seemingly poses to humanity. But the jungle has its own dangers, and it’s not long before distrust and suspicion grip the team. They’ll need to come together to take on what waits for them inside a mysterious structure that may not be of this world. Setting the story over the course of five days, Wilson (Robopocalypse, 2011, etc.) combines the best elements of hard SF novels and techno-thrillers, using recovered video, audio, and interview transcripts to shape the narrative, with his own robotics expertise adding flavor and heft. Despite a bit of acronym overload, this is an atmospheric and often terrifying roller-coaster ride with (literally) sky-high stakes that pays plenty of homage to The Andromeda Strain while also echoing the spirit and mood of Crichton’s other works, such as Jurassic Park and Congo. Add more than a few twists and exciting set pieces (especially in the finale) to the mix, and you’ve got a winner.

A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247327-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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