SIMON BLOOM, THE GRAVITY KEEPER

The town of Lawnville has many secrets; among them are the forest that hides itself from all but a select group and The Order of Physics, part of an arcane union that explores the sciences. Things start to break apart in Lawnville, however, when a sixth-grader named Simon Bloom (so ordinary that people often forget his name) comes into possession of a large book labeled Teacher’s Edition of Physics. Pursued by a brilliant villain named Sirabetta and her not-so-bright sidekick, Mermon, Simon teams up with fellow sixth-graders Owen (easily frightened but resourceful) and smart, mouthy Alysha. Told in a series of amusingly titled chapters with occasional commentary by the (unseen, but omniscient) Narrator, this tale plays fast and loose with fantasy and science-fiction conventions—with great success. The action is fast-paced; there is lots of slapstick humor; and things do work out in the end. The last chapter even hints of a sequel. Tweens who enjoyed Lemony Snicket will be equally amused by this lightweight but swift and funny read. (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-525-47922-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Melodramatic but definitively all over the place contentwise.

WHERE SHE FELL

A teenager battles social anxiety disorder and giant bugs in a subterranean world.

When two bad friends to whom she’s been clinging trick her into venturing into the ominously named Drowners Swamp, Eliza falls into a sinkhole that leads into a seemingly endless cave system. Being an avid fan of caves and geology, Eliza is as enthralled as she is terrified—a mix of emotions that remains unaltered as she encounters a small community of likewise trapped people surviving on a diet of outsized spiders and cave insects. Weeks later she is captured (briefly, thanks to a conveniently timed spider attack) by bioluminescent humanoids. All the while, despite having been in therapy for years, she continually denigrates herself for panic attacks and freezing up around others. Her emotional reactions take up so much of the narrative, in fact, that for all its lurid, occasionally gruesome turns, it’s hard to tell whether character or action drives the story more. In the event, Eliza is surprised to find reserves of inner strength—and a chance at personal transformation—through her ordeal. The first-person narration is punctuated with excerpts and sketches from Eliza’s journal. Except for one character with brown skin, the nonglowing cast defaults to white. Warring themes and elements give this outing a distinct feel of multiple stories yoked together by violence.

Melodramatic but definitively all over the place contentwise. (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-23007-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Point/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE BANISHED

In a prequel to The Ice Bear (1986), Siri’s people live in the frozen Starkland settlement, residing peacefully with the primitive Furfolk, who communicate by whuffles and grunts. Siri’s Uncle Thorvald plans to convince the king to rescind their people’s banishment to that remote arctic isle with the gift of an ice bear and its cubs. To do this he needs the help of his friend, a Furfolk man, who can handle the bear on the long sea journey; Siri accompanies them disguised as one of the Furfolk man’s children. But when the king insists that the Furfolk man stay with the bear, Thorvald is forced to betray his friend for the sake of his people, while Siri chooses to betray Thorvald for her new Furfolk friends. Her allegiances have shifted during the course of the journey, and in the end it is left unclear whether her people will try to destroy the Furfolk, and what Siri can do to stop them. This complex, atmospheric morality tale offers no easy answers, and takes place in a world that is alien and exotic. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16602-4

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Greenwillow

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more