A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes.

THE TOWER OF NERO

From the Trials of Apollo series , Vol. 5

In this tumultuous series closer, Apollo, transformed into a mortal teenager, takes on both a deified emperor in a luxurious Manhattan high-rise and an older adversary.

Lester/Apollo’s coast-to-coast quest reaches its climactic stage as, with help from both eager squads of fledgling demigods from Camp Half-Blood and reluctant allies from realms deep below New York, he invades the palatial lair of Emperor Nero—followed by a solo bout with another foe from a past struggle. Riordan lays on the transformation of the heedless, arrogant sun god to a repentant lover of his long-neglected semidivine offspring and of humanity in general, which has served as the series’ binding theme, thickly enough to have his humbled narrator even apologizing (twice!) to his underwear for having to change it periodically. Still, the author delivers a fast, action-driven plot with high stakes, lots of fighting, and occasional splashes of gore brightened by banter and silly bits, so readers aren’t likely to mind all the hand-wringing. He also leaves any real-life parallels to the slick, megalomaniacal, emotionally abusive Nero entirely up to readers to discern and dishes out just deserts all round, neatly tying up loose ends in a set of closing vignettes. The supporting cast is predominantly White, with passing mention of diverse representation.

A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes. (glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4847-4645-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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A riveting novel that will have readers rooting for its star.

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DAUGHTER OF THE DEEP

A teenager faces seemingly insurmountable challenges in this riveting modern-day spinoff of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

For Ana Dakkar and her fellow ninth graders at Harding-Pencroft Academy, there is nothing more momentous than the weekend trials each student must ace at the end of freshman year. Students who fail to showcase their survival skills are asked to leave the academy, a heavily guarded place Ana has thought of as home since the mysterious deaths of her parents. Though Ana’s brother, Dev, is a senior, what happens at trials is such a closely guarded secret that no one in her year knows what to expect. While her group is out on the water for their trials, Harding-Pencroft is demolished in an attack orchestrated by a rival school. As Ana and her classmates discover that the events depicted in Jules Verne’s classic novels were real, Riordan’s lifelong love of the source material is clear—especially when Ana learns information that will help her find a way to protect the group. A foreword by Roshani Chokshi introduces this adventure that is both great entertainment and centers a well-developed protagonist who is thoughtfully shown dealing with loss. Ana is of Bundeli Indian descent, and her group of peers, who are diverse in various ways, experience losses and struggles of their own. (Final illustrations not seen.)

A riveting novel that will have readers rooting for its star. (Harding-Pencroft Academy guide, cast list) (Adventure. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-07792-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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