THROUGH THE WORMHOLE

A mysterious agency singles out two teens for a dangerous mission to the past. Kate, who is white, swims for the high-school team; Michael, who is African-American, is a skilled equestrian. The two best friends find themselves chosen by the CyberTimeSurfing Institute to go back to 1778 to warn General Lafayette of a British trap and to save the life of Michael’s distant ancestor, John Banks, who rode with Lafayette. Any time-travel novel necessarily rests on a contrivance, but this novel, Favole’s debut, is more contrived than most. The need for the mission is so poorly justified—some unnamed alteration to the present/future as we know it will occur if the kids do not succeed—that there is no tension to the narrative at all. The very arbitrariness of it all guarantees that Michael and Kate will succeed, each using his or her special skills to accomplish the mission. Once in the past, these two modern teens have very little difficulty navigating a radically different environment from the one they’ve come from, winning against all credibility the near-instant trust of the French and Continental troops and playing a key role in the Battle of Barren Hill. The novel appears to have been written to highlight the strategic accomplishments of General Lafayette and to honor the African-Americans who fought with the patriots; an author’s note details the life of the real John Banks and Lafayette’s career. Unfortunately, the author’s note is ultimately more interesting than this predictable, didactic effort. (Fiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-930826-00-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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BEYOND PARADISE

During WWII in the Philippines, American citizens trapped in the war zone were imprisoned for years by the Japanese, events that provide the context for Hertenstein’s first novel, which focuses on one 14-year-old, Louise. Louise’s minister father is captured in Manila, leaving her and her weak-willed mother to face life alone with other Baptist missionaries on an outlying island. The colony escapes into the hills for a time, but is discovered and interned in a concentration camp. Eventually they are moved to Manila, and later to the notorious camp, Los Banos. One of Louise’s friends is discovered with a radio and executed; food is scarce; people are dying. Hertenstein writes with sensitivity, although the story is often disjointed, e.g., the news that the colony has been taken prisoner comes in a letter Louise writes to her sister, instead of through Louise’s natural-sounding first-person narration, which filled the first 60 pages. When the Japanese disappear from the camp, Louise, now almost 18, rejoices that finally there will be “No bowing, no bayonets,” yet bowing and bayonets, major features of Japanese concentration camps, have hardly been mentioned. A first work that is shakily compelling, often uplifting, and certainly promising. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16381-5

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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SKULLDUGGERY

PLB 0-7868-2439-5 From Karr (Man of the Family, p. 1312, etc.), a historical novel that is remarkably cheerful, considering that among its key elements are grave-robbing and a hideous criminal on the prowl. In New York City in 1840, Matthew loses his whole family to cholera. Trying to keep body and soul together, he answers an advertisement for an assistant to a remarkable fellow, Dr. Asa B. Cornwall, phrenologist. Dr. ABC, as he is known, studies the cranial features of people, and deduces by the lobes and bumps on their heads their personalities and characteristics; he’s writing his magnum opus to prove his theories. Matthew takes to the larger-than-life doctor; they travel to Philadelphia, London, Paris, and the south of France, attempting’surreptitiously—to dig up famous skulls for the doctor’s research. All the while, in the smoothly suspenseful plotting, a vicious and mysterious stranger with a scar follows them, putting Matthew in danger and haunting his nightmares. The thrilling denouement takes place on St. Helena and involves the body of Napoleon himself; this novel is rich in period color and good old-fashioned derring-do. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7868-0506-4

Page Count: 230

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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