ANTIQUITAS LOST

THE LAST OF THE SHAMALANS

A young boy discovers his special powers when he accidentally stumbles into a magical realm on the brink of war—a war he must help resolve.

When Elliott moves to New Orleans to live with his grandfather, his greatest concerns are his sickly mother and fending off the neighborhood bullies who make fun of the strange markings on his hands, deformities he has had since birth. It isn’t until his grandfather encourages him to check out his new basement that Elliott realizes there’s more to his appearance than meets the eye; he is transported to a fantastical world and picked up by two creatures called gimlets who recognize the markings and a bracelet Elliott wears as signifiers that he is a shamalan. The pair takes him to the council at the castle Harwelden and the chancellors throw Elliott in a room filled with water where he discovers that he can breathe underwater and his hands and feet become webbed, proving his identity as a shamalan. Meanwhile, across the land, the only other known living shamalan, Princess Sarintha, has been taken prisoner by enemy forces consisting largely of the race of serpans, who are waging war against the other races of the land. Elliott and his gimlet friends rescue a susquat beast named Hooks from the castle dungeon when Hooks promises to lead them to another shamalan hiding in the woods. But as they search, a serpan named Slipher, who has come across some special tracking magic and is desperate to prove himself to his commander by killing Elliott, hunts them. This is a bildungsroman and quest tale in the tradition of epic high fantasy, and fans of the genre will enjoy the extensive world building and imaginative magical feats. The characters are well-developed, some with poignant back stories and others whose true intentions aren’t revealed until the very end. Though the novel is lengthy, there is never a dull moment, as the characters’ actions drive the plot at a steady pace all the way to the ultimate battle. More than 70 pen-and-ink illustrations by Geof Isherwood, evocative of a Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual, add an extra dimension to Smith’s vivid descriptions. Pleasing for readers looking to escape into an expansive world of magic, conflict and racing action.

 

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615460475

Page Count: 615

Publisher: Medlock

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2011

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THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER

Aspiring filmmaker/first-novelist Chbosky adds an upbeat ending to a tale of teenaged angst—the right combination of realism and uplift to allow it on high school reading lists, though some might object to the sexuality, drinking, and dope-smoking. More sophisticated readers might object to the rip-off of Salinger, though Chbosky pays homage by having his protagonist read Catcher in the Rye. Like Holden, Charlie oozes sincerity, rails against celebrity phoniness, and feels an extraliterary bond with his favorite writers (Harper Lee, Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Ayn Rand, etc.). But Charlie’s no rich kid: the third child in a middle-class family, he attends public school in western Pennsylvania, has an older brother who plays football at Penn State, and an older sister who worries about boys a lot. An epistolary novel addressed to an anonymous “friend,” Charlie’s letters cover his first year in high school, a time haunted by the recent suicide of his best friend. Always quick to shed tears, Charlie also feels guilty about the death of his Aunt Helen, a troubled woman who lived with Charlie’s family at the time of her fatal car wreck. Though he begins as a friendless observer, Charlie is soon pals with seniors Patrick and Sam (for Samantha), stepsiblings who include Charlie in their circle, where he smokes pot for the first time, drops acid, and falls madly in love with the inaccessible Sam. His first relationship ends miserably because Charlie remains compulsively honest, though he proves a loyal friend (to Patrick when he’s gay-bashed) and brother (when his sister needs an abortion). Depressed when all his friends prepare for college, Charlie has a catatonic breakdown, which resolves itself neatly and reveals a long-repressed truth about Aunt Helen. A plain-written narrative suggesting that passivity, and thinking too much, lead to confusion and anxiety. Perhaps the folks at (co-publisher) MTV see the synergy here with Daria or any number of videos by the sensitive singer-songwriters they feature.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02734-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: MTV/Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

ADORKABLE

In O’Gorman’s YA debut, two best friends try to fool people into thinking that they’re in love—and then discover a new facet of their relationship.

Sally Spitz is a frizzy-haired 17-year-old girl with a charming zeal for three things: Harry Potter (she’s a Gryffindor), Star Wars, and getting into Duke University. During her senior year of high school, she goes on a slew of miserable dates, set up by her mother and her own second-best–friend–turned-matchmaker, Lillian Hooker. Sally refuses to admit to anyone that she’s actually head over Converses in love with her longtime best friend, a boy named Baldwin Eugene Charles Kent, aka “Becks.” After a particularly awkward date, Sally devises a plan to end Lillian’s matchmaking attempts; specifically, she plans to hire someone to act as her fake boyfriend, or “F.B.F.” But before Sally can put her plan into action, a rumor circulates that Sally and Becks are already dating. Becks agrees to act as Sally’s F.B.F. in exchange for a box of Goobers and Sally’s doing his calculus homework for a month. Later, as they hold hands in the hall and “practice” make-out sessions in Becks’ bedroom, their friendship heads into unfamiliar territory. Over the course of this novel, O’Gorman presents an inviting and enjoyable account of lifelong friendship transforming into young love. Though the author’s reliance on familiar tropes may be comforting to a casual reader, it may frustrate those who may be looking for a more substantial and less predictable plot. A number of ancillary characters lack very much complexity, and the story, overall, would have benefited from an added twist or two. Even so, however, this remains a largely engaging and often endearing debut. 

A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-759-7

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

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