High-concept science, rapid-fire but sometimes sloppy writing, stiff dialogue, shallow characters, and plenty of action:...

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THE SILVER DREAM

From the InterWorld series

Don’t be fooled by Gaiman’s name on the cover: This is a slightly pedestrian if not unsatisfying bit of science-fictional fluff.

InterWorld started as a television concept by Gaiman and Reaves, and the first volume (InterWorld, 2007) harked back to the golden age of science fiction, when the science was mostly made-up jargon (and not entirely logical), and the characters showed a tendency toward tropes. This second volume continues where the first left off, compounding the liabilities of the first by mixing a middle-grade tone uneasily with some older content: The teens who make up most of the InterWorld organization are, in the end, child soldiers, and they are woefully underprepared for death, which comes calling. Joey Harker (he’d rather be called Joe now that he’s 16) finds himself once again at the center of things when the mysterious Acacia Jones shows up during a mission gone wrong. She’s not an alternative version of Joey (of which there are many), and she knows an awful lot. Meanwhile, the newest Walker (navigator of the multiverse) is everyone’s darling, and Joey must grapple with jealousy and the first stirrings of romantic interest, even as everything, literally, falls apart.

High-concept science, rapid-fire but sometimes sloppy writing, stiff dialogue, shallow characters, and plenty of action: old-fashioned science fiction indeed, dressed up to appeal to a modern audience. (Science fiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-206796-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.

A MAP OF DAYS

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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