Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for preteens and teens, a surefire hit.

DON'T TURN AROUND

From the Don't Turn Around series , Vol. 1

Teenage hackers Noa and Peter band together for vengeance and discover an inconceivable conspiracy.

Sixteen-year-old computer whiz Noa Torson has escaped the Child Protective Services system by creating a fake foster family that includes a reclusive, freelance IT-guy of a father who draws a tidy salary working “from home”; she thinks she’s safe. When she wakes up in a hospitallike operating theater with no memory of how she got there, she doesn’t take the doctors’ lame explanation that she was in a car accident and uses her smarts to escape. Meanwhile, Boston child-of-privilege Peter pokes around his father’s files and is interrupted by armed thugs who break down the door and storm off with his computer (leaving a warning for his parents). Peter enlists his hacktivist group /ALLIANCE/ (of which Noa is a member) to, first, research the subject of those files and then to attack his attackers via the Net. The attack only serves to dig the teens in deeper when they uncover a frightening conspiracy of human experimentation and corporate malfeasance that could mean a quick death for them both. Adult author Gagnon’s YA debut is a pulse-pounding scary-great read. The strong characters and dystopian day-after-tomorrow setting will have teens begging for more. The slightly open end leaving the possibility (but not necessity) of a sequel will rankle some; others will just breathlessly smile.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for preteens and teens, a surefire hit. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-210290-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Sanderson (Legion, 2018, etc.) plainly had a ball with this nonstop, highflying opener, and readers will too.

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SKYWARD

From the Skyward series , Vol. 1

Eager to prove herself, the daughter of a flier disgraced for cowardice hurls herself into fighter pilot training to join a losing war against aliens.

Plainly modeled as a cross between Katniss Everdeen and Conan the Barbarian (“I bathed in fires of destruction and reveled in the screams of the defeated. I didn’t get afraid”), Spensa “Spin” Nightshade leaves her previous occupation—spearing rats in the caverns of the colony planet Detritus for her widowed mother’s food stand—to wangle a coveted spot in the Defiant Defense Force’s flight school. Opportunities to exercise wild recklessness and growing skill begin at once, as the class is soon in the air, battling the mysterious Krell raiders who have driven people underground. Spensa, who is assumed white, interacts with reasonably diverse human classmates with varying ethnic markers. M-Bot, a damaged AI of unknown origin, develops into a comical sidekick: “Hello!...You have nearly died, and so I will say something to distract you from the serious, mind-numbing implications of your own mortality! I hate your shoes.” Meanwhile, hints that all is not as it seems, either with the official story about her father or the whole Krell war in general, lead to startling revelations and stakes-raising implications by the end. Stay tuned. Maps and illustrations not seen.

Sanderson (Legion, 2018, etc.) plainly had a ball with this nonstop, highflying opener, and readers will too. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-55577-0

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun.

STARSIGHT

From the Skyward series , Vol. 2

As if the threat of huge, raging monsters from hyperspace isn’t scary enough, hotshot fighter pilot Spensa Nightshade becomes embroiled in an alien empire’s politics.

On a desperate mission to steal hyperdrive technology from the crablike invading Krell who are threatening to destroy her beleaguered home colony on Detritus, Spensa, who is white, holographically disguises herself as a violet-skinned UrDail and slips into a Krell pilot training program for “lesser species.” The discovery that she’s being secretly trained not to fight planet-destroying delvers but to exterminate humans, who are (with some justification, having kindled three interstellar wars in past centuries) regarded in certain quarters as an irrationally aggressive species, is just one in a string of revelations as, in between numerous near-death experiences on practice flights, she struggles to understand both her own eerie abilities and the strange multispecies society in which she finds herself. There are so many characters besides Spensa searching for self-identity—notably her comic-relief sidekick AI M-Bot, troubled human friend Jorgen back on Detritus, and Morriumur, member of a species whose color-marked sexes create trial offspring—that even with a plot that defaults to hot action and escalating intrigue the pacing has a stop and start quality. Still, Spensa’s habitual over-the-top recklessness adds a rousing spark, and the author folds in plenty of banter as well as a colorful supporting cast.

Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55581-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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