In this crackerjack adventure, a pair of Cockney trash-pickers and their spaceman friend seek a MacGuffin in the ruins of post-apocalyptic London.

Fifteen-year-old Cass and her kid brother Wilbur are usually stuck scavving under a gangmaster's careful eye, pulling London to pieces and tossing it in crusher chutes. The Vlads have been running Britain ever since they conquered the world 100 years ago, and heaven help any Londoner who sneaks out of her lifelong job of searching for object of the Vlads’ desire: the artifact. Nobody knows what the artifact is, but Wilbur, convinced his comic books tell him how to find it, sneaks off repeatedly into forbidden neighborhoods. This is how he finds Peyto and Erin, strange kids who say the artifact is a flinder, and they need it to repair their wounded spaceship. Maybe Wilbur can help them—maybe he's even destined to. Now they're caught in a mad spiral of (occasionally incoherent) adventure, hopping into space and back, fleeing from Vlads, hiding in the British Museum, fighting drone soldiers in powered battlesuits. Cass has a lovely, rich narrative voice ("We go through it like a horse ’n’ cart through a cake"), and is a feisty heroine, a much better protagonist than destined savior Wilbur would have been. Even if events don't always quite hold together, it’s such a racketing good time it doesn't matter. (Science fiction. 9-11) 


Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-545-31767-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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After fighting the evil Blouts in The Otherworldlies (2008), Fern must now face a deadlier menace: rooming with the school's...


Twelve-year-old Fern is an Otherworldly, a vampire—though why a non–blood-drinking, non-immortal, naturally born, teleporting telekinetic is called a “vampire” is left as an exercise to the reader.

After fighting the evil Blouts in The Otherworldlies (2008), Fern must now face a deadlier menace: rooming with the school's mean girls on a class trip to Washington, D.C. Fern's only distraction from the bullies tormenting her is her vision of a boy in a cage. The boy, she discovers, is Miles Zapo, a kidnapped Otherworldly just Fern's age. Fern suspects Miles, like her, is one of the Unusuals, destined to do something or other. (It's not clear what’s so Unusual, and it doesn't really matter; as long as there's a prophecy it's important, right?) The kidnapper is the dastardly Silver Tooth, also known as Haryle (“Hair-uh-Lee”) Laffar, brother of evil Vlad from Fern's previous adventure, and possessed of even more mysterious and evil secrets. The Smithsonian, the Hope diamond, moon rocks and mohawked, scaled, monstrous birds all play a part in Haryle's villainous plans for Miles and Fern. A firmly middle-school adventure (despite packaging attempting to capitalize on the paranormal craze among older teens) composed of cartoon villains, unconvincing heroes and a muddled, nonsensical plot.

Pub Date: June 28, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-199443-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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In this sketchy, incoherent, near-future tale, a child named Rain and the lion she has raised are stolen from an inland village for some never-explained Sacrifice by “Tekkies” inhabiting The Island, a former mountaintop surrounded by risen seas. Aside from vague references to “the Wild,” “Drylands” and air-conditioned “chill chambers,” the author does little to set up either the scene or the back story, nor does she ever reveal why Rain or the lion are considered so significant. Instead she focuses almost entirely on Rain’s unhappiness and confusion through disconnected encounters with Island residents, and then she engineers a highly contrived escape for the girl and lion as their former prison is totally destroyed for unknown reasons. The deadly effects of global warming certainly make a cogent theme, but this effort to take it up seems to have been, at best, phoned in by a veteran South African author who usually offers much more careful and sensitive work (Song of Be, 1993, etc.). Goodness knows, there's a raft of other eco-disaster tales out there for readers so inclined. (Science fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84780-114-2

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2010

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