THE POWER OF UN

Etchemendy (Crystal City, not reviewed) mixes quick action and long thoughts in this tale of a lad who discovers that changing the past is a tricky business. When a gimpy old man, smelling of ozone, pops up from nowhere and hands him a palm-sized time machine, Gib Finney is understandably dazzled by the possibilities. But his excitement changes to anguish when he loops back in time to prevent first his little sister, then her sitter, from being run down by a truck, and learns that there’s a momentum to events that is hard to divert. Gib’s increasing desperation, as he tries to figure out how to head off what he knows is about to happen, injects suspense into the story, and his misadventures with the “unner” prompt insights into how minor incidents or casual choices often have far-reaching, unpredictable consequences. In the end, he does manage to keep anyone else from being hurt, at the cost of having his own leg crushed (readers will have twigged to the mysterious old man’s identity long before this) and the “unner” suffers the same fate. This hangs together better than William Sleator’s similarly premised Rewind (1999), but readers who assume from the cover illustration that it's a comedy are in for a shock. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8126-2850-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A busy if ultimately tidy wrap-up for fans.

WORLDS COLLIDE

From the Land of Stories series , Vol. 6

Witches and other fictional baddies move to conquer this world when a portal opens between the Land of Stories and a branch of the New York Public Library.

For the finale to his popular series, Colfer recaps the first five episodes, then brings together most of the teeming cast to wage, as the narrator admits, “an overdue battle of good versus evil.” Flanked by a wish-fulfilling frame story in which Conner, one of the white twin protagonists, has grown up to become a revered writer of middle-grade fantasies, the climactic struggle begins with the portal’s opening in the sumptuous Rose Reading Room. It spreads to Central Park and other locales as the then-teenager and allies fictional or otherwise (including a lot of ineffectual Marines) square off against his powerfully gifted sister, Alex, the dastardly witches who have ensorcelled her, and a Literary Army led by (among others) the head-chopping Queen of Hearts. Many set pieces ensue, from a pitched battle with gingerbread soldiers to no fewer than six individual witch-fairy duels in a row—not to mention gags and one-liners aplenty, topical references, and adolescent posturing (“Knock it off, boys,” Merlin snaps at one point, “there are much bigger issues in this story”). With one exception, characters who die bleed words instead of blood, and all of the destruction in both worlds is neatly fixed at the end by an albino dragon ( see Book 3: A Grimm Warning). Dorman’s vignettes at the chapter heads offer glimpses of settings and characters.

A busy if ultimately tidy wrap-up for fans. (foldout map of lower Manhattan) (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-35589-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The main characters and the continuing story both come along so smartly (and Harry at last shows a glimmer of interest in...

HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN

From the Harry Potter series , Vol. 3

The Harry Potter epic (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, p. 888, etc.) continues to gather speed as Harry enters his third year at the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry and does battle with the traitor behind his parents’ deaths.

Besides coping with the usual adversaries’sneering classmate Draco Malfoy, evocatively-named Potions Master Snape—the young wizard-in-training has a new worry with the escape of Sirius Black, murderous minion of archenemy Lord Voldemort, from the magicians’ prison of Azkaban. Folding in subplots and vividly conceived magical creatures—Azkaban’s guards, known as dementors, are the very last brutes readers would want to meet in a dark alley—with characteristic abandon, Rowling creates a busy backdrop for Harry as she pushes him through a series of terrifying encounters and hard-fought games of Quidditch, on the way to a properly pulse-pounding climax strewn with mistaken identities and revelations about his dead father.

The main characters and the continuing story both come along so smartly (and Harry at last shows a glimmer of interest in the opposite sex, a sure sign that the tides of adolescence are lapping at his toes) that the book seems shorter than its page count: have readers clear their calendars if they are fans, or get out of the way if they are not. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 1999

ISBN: 0-439-13635-0

Page Count: 431

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more