An ennui-soaked misfire.

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FALTER KINGDOM

A teenage boy is possessed by a demon.

There is a tunnel near the park where the local high school kids smoke, drink, and canoodle. The most daring teens run through the tunnel and come out possessed by a demon. The tunnel is called Falter Kingdom, and one afternoon, disaffected senior Hunter finds himself hanging out by the tunnel with his friends. (Absent racial cues, readers will likely infer that he’s white.) After a couple beers, Hunter runs through the tunnel, contracting a demon that goes by H. Hunter could get an exorcism, but he likes the spark H brings to his life, despite the demon’s villainous motivations. Told through Hunter’s first-person, present-tense perspective, occasionally addressing H as “you” and other times adopting “we” as the demon digs in, the novel sets up an interesting idea but does very little with it. Hunter is an unappealing protagonist, with little apparent ambition or investment. His possession muddles his motivations and characteristics, but everyone around him is so flat and his relationships so attenuated, there’s little emotional resonance. The novel thuds on and on, hitting the same brooding note over and over, and when the violent climax finally comes there’s simply not enough on the line for readers to care.

An ennui-soaked misfire. (Horror. 14-17)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-939419-75-0

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Unnamed Press

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Fans hoping for a novelization equal to the caliber of the original web series will be sorely disappointed.

CARMILLA

A present-day web series, based on the 1872 Gothic vampire novella, gets a prose adaptation.

Laura, newly arrived at an Austrian university, investigates the disappearance of her roommate, which is covered up by school administration. Her suspicions rise when she’s quickly given a new roommate: the snarky, mysterious Carmilla. Laura’s initial relationship with Danny, a female teaching assistant, is superseded by an attraction to Carmilla even after she discovers that Carmilla is a vampire. Overall, the translation from web series to novel is less than smooth. The writing lacks sophistication, and humor which plays well onscreen falls flat on the page. Remarkably, while the web series has narrative reason for taking place solely in Laura’s dorm room (it’s here she films her video blogs chronicling the investigation), the novel largely follows suit without the same excuse. Though Laura’s identity as a lesbian is well-portrayed, the genderqueer representation of one of her friends is abysmal: LaFontaine’s pronouns are introduced halfway through the book and the whole matter is handled awkwardly, especially in connection to their friend’s difficulty with their identity and name change. What’s more, although they don’t identify as male or female, no one raises questions when LaFontaine is one of five “girls” to be kidnapped—not even LaFontaine. All characters seem to be white.

Fans hoping for a novelization equal to the caliber of the original web series will be sorely disappointed. (Fantasy. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0130-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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The unbalanced plot stretches too far, over too long.

THROUGH THE ZOMBIE GLASS

From the White Rabbit Chronicles series , Vol. 2

In this follow-up to Alice in Zombieland (2012), Ali Bell and her friends, fellow hunters of invisible spirit zombies, confront internal threats and endless relationship drama.

Just when Ali’s getting into a comfortable rhythm with her new zombie-fighting life, everything falls apart. Romantically, things are great with her boyfriend, Cole, right up until two out-of-state zombie slayers arrive. One is Cole’s gorgeous ex, and the other, a handsome “he-slut,” shares visions with Ali when he meets her eyes—just like the visions that kick-started Ali and Cole’s romance. Before Ali can figure things out, Cole has already dumped her, leading to pages of misery for everyone involved. Meanwhile, Ali is bitten during a zombie hunt and has a strange reaction, even after being given the antidote. In the mirror, she sees a sinister zombie version of herself that wants to take over, forcing Ali to struggle against her zombie counterpart’s hungers. Additional storylines feature relationship struggles for Ali’s best friends and a spy among the slayers feeding information back to the evil corporation that wishes to use zombies. The slow-paced story is plagued by tension-stealing tropes—the paranormal-romance-sequel formula in which the hero abruptly dumps the heroine and the zombie-movie cliché in which a victim conceals an infection. However, Ali’s female friendships are endearing.

The unbalanced plot stretches too far, over too long. (Horror/paranormal romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-373-21077-0

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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