RAPTURE

Teens with biblical interests will find this over-the-top story a fun, quirky read, but, for the irreligious among us, the...

In this coming-of-age, faith-based adventure, a handsome teenager bitterly sets out to fulfill his destiny as a half-demon warrior, protecting faithless “innocents” in a post-rapture world.

It’s never been a secret that 18-year-old Samael is half-demon. He grew faster than his peers, and he’s much stronger and faster than any human—not to mention the horns protruding from his black, shaggy hair. For these reasons, he was forced to live a life of seclusion in the home of his sensei and foster father, Hikari, and Hikari’s beautiful daughter, Aimi. Sam struggles with his identity, his love for Aimi and the truth about his mother, all while preparing for the upcoming 7-year tribulation, when demons and the devil will rule the earth. Despite an action-packed introduction, the story starts slow. A lack of anticipatory buildup leaves the reader with few demon-fighting scenes that often struggle to excite. The story picks up, however, when Sam’s character develops as his past unfolds over chapters that cleverly alternate between past and present. It’s hard not to feel for Sam and his unfortunate fate: He travels the ash-crusted, demon-filled world on his way to Los Angeles to fight the Antichrist. He manages to make a few friends along the way, though: two teenagers named Joshua and Grace accompany him on the journey, although suspicions arise as they get closer to LA. The unlikely team faces a barrage of obstacles—corrupted towns, demons and pentagrams—as well as helpful angels and a slew of biblical quotes, but with Sam’s two swords and determination, he ably leads them through hell and back.

Teens with biblical interests will find this over-the-top story a fun, quirky read, but, for the irreligious among us, the salvation undertones may be too much.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0473191610

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Pear Jam

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2012

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JUPITER STORM

In more ways than one, a tale about young creatures testing their wings; a moving, entertaining winner.

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A fifth-grade New Orleans girl discovers a mysterious chrysalis containing an unexpected creature in this middle-grade novel.

Jacquelyn Marie Johnson, called Jackie, is a 10-year-old African-American girl, the second oldest and the only girl of six siblings. She’s responsible, smart, and enjoys being in charge; she likes “paper dolls and long division and imagining things she had never seen.” Normally, Jackie has no trouble obeying her strict but loving parents. But when her potted snapdragon acquires a peculiar egg or maybe a chrysalis (she dubs it a chrysalegg), Jackie’s strong desire to protect it runs up against her mother’s rule against plants in the house. Jackie doesn’t exactly mean to lie, but she tells her mother she needs to keep the snapdragon in her room for a science project and gets permission. Jackie draws the chrysalegg daily, waiting for something to happen as it gets larger. When the amazing creature inside breaks free, Jackie is more determined than ever to protect it, but this leads her further into secrets and lies. The results when her parents find out are painful, and resolving the problem will take courage, honesty, and trust. Dumas (Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest: Episode 5, 2017, etc.) presents a very likable character in Jackie. At 10, she’s young enough to enjoy playing with paper dolls but has a maturity that even older kids can lack. She’s resourceful, as when she wants to measure a red spot on the chrysalegg; lacking calipers, she fashions one from her hairpin. Jackie’s inward struggle about what to obey—her dearest wishes or the parents she loves—is one many readers will understand. The book complicates this question by making Jackie’s parents, especially her mother, strict (as one might expect to keep order in a large family) but undeniably loving and protective as well—it’s not just a question of outwitting clueless adults. Jackie’s feelings about the creature (tender and responsible but also more than a little obsessive) are similarly shaded rather than black-and-white. The ending suggests that an intriguing sequel is to come.

In more ways than one, a tale about young creatures testing their wings; a moving, entertaining winner.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943169-32-0

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Plum Street Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

BROTHERS IN ARMS

BLUFORD HIGH SERIES #9

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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