THE TIN PRINCESS

Pullman sets some of the younger characters from The Ruby and the Smoke (1987) and the other Sally Lockhart books center stage for another taut adventure. Adelaide, an intelligent Cockney who's now a lovely (but illiterate) young woman, has escaped a London brothel to marry Prince Rudolf of Razkavia, a small country tucked between Austria and Bismarck's Germany. In 1882, the couple returns to Razkavia, taking Becky, 16, a Razkavian political refugee who's been teaching Adelaide German and serves as interpreter, and Jim, now a detective, still smitten with Adelaide, his childhood sweetheart. After some unexpected deaths Rudolph becomes king, only to be assassinated at his coronation, whereupon Adelaide seizes her new subjects' fealty by heroically carrying a historic flag up a mountain to its traditional site. But traitors—not just the assassin—are at large. In the process of the trio's tracking them down, Pullman offers a grand series of maneuvers, calling on all their considerable wits and courage as well as the various loyalties of numerous other picturesque characters (helpfully listed at the outset). Still, though these exploits will appeal greatly to fans of Lloyd Alexander's Vesper Holly (The Illyrian Adventure, etc.), in the end—after the puppets of realpolitik are unmasked and the power of the German chancellor and his banker and munitions- manufacturer cohorts can no longer be ignored—this is in the darker spirit of his Westmark. A mesmerizing yarn that delivers on its promises. (Fiction. 11+)

Pub Date: April 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-84757-X

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1994

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Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly...

THE GIVER

From the Giver Quartet series , Vol. 1

In a radical departure from her realistic fiction and comic chronicles of Anastasia, Lowry creates a chilling, tightly controlled future society where all controversy, pain, and choice have been expunged, each childhood year has its privileges and responsibilities, and family members are selected for compatibility.

As Jonas approaches the "Ceremony of Twelve," he wonders what his adult "Assignment" will be. Father, a "Nurturer," cares for "newchildren"; Mother works in the "Department of Justice"; but Jonas's admitted talents suggest no particular calling. In the event, he is named "Receiver," to replace an Elder with a unique function: holding the community's memories—painful, troubling, or prone to lead (like love) to disorder; the Elder ("The Giver") now begins to transfer these memories to Jonas. The process is deeply disturbing; for the first time, Jonas learns about ordinary things like color, the sun, snow, and mountains, as well as love, war, and death: the ceremony known as "release" is revealed to be murder. Horrified, Jonas plots escape to "Elsewhere," a step he believes will return the memories to all the people, but his timing is upset by a decision to release a newchild he has come to love. Ill-equipped, Jonas sets out with the baby on a desperate journey whose enigmatic conclusion resonates with allegory: Jonas may be a Christ figure, but the contrasts here with Christian symbols are also intriguing.

Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 978-0-395-64566-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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Impressive world-building, breathtaking action and clear philosophical concerns make this volume, the beginning of a planned...

THE HUNGER GAMES

From the Hunger Games series , Vol. 1

Katniss Everdeen is a survivor.

She has to be; she’s representing her District, number 12, in the 74th Hunger Games in the Capitol, the heart of Panem, a new land that rose from the ruins of a post-apocalyptic North America. To punish citizens for an early rebellion, the rulers require each district to provide one girl and one boy, 24 in all, to fight like gladiators in a futuristic arena. The event is broadcast like reality TV, and the winner returns with wealth for his or her district. With clear inspiration from Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and the Greek tale of Theseus, Collins has created a brilliantly imagined dystopia, where the Capitol is rich and the rest of the country is kept in abject poverty, where the poor battle to the death for the amusement of the rich. However, poor copyediting in the first printing will distract careful readers—a crying shame. [Note: Errors have been corrected in subsequent printings, so we are now pleased to apply the Kirkus star.]

Impressive world-building, breathtaking action and clear philosophical concerns make this volume, the beginning of a planned trilogy, as good as The Giver and more exciting. (Science fiction. 11 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-439-02348-1

Page Count: 394

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2008

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