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ABOVE

Compulsive reading all the way to the end.

In this follow-up companion to Beneath (2015), three white teens who have escaped a cult that lives underground (literally) try to elude recapture and learn what the cult’s brilliant and tyrannical leader might be planning.

Born into the People of the Deep, Kate lived a privileged life until she defied Larry, the cult leader, and escaped in New York City. Trained to be a skilled Shadow, an expert at observation and trailing, Kate spots tails in Oregon. She splits up from Pat and his brother, Coop, and allows herself to be captured in order to spy on the group. Indeed, the cult members are aboveground and on the move, heading south in motor homes. Pat and Coop do their best to follow, teaming up with Alex, the Pod’s former Librarian, now traitor to the cult. For much of the book, the trio works to keep Kate and her captors in sight as they also try to evade the notice of the savvy cult members. Pat tries to keep the FBI informed, but Larry has plans that may defy all the might of the world. His scheme, when revealed, looks unstoppable and will devastate the modern world. Smith keeps suspense thumping and pages turning as he concocts his chase tale, slowly revealing the extent of Larry’s power, intellect, and evil intent. He writes alternating chapters from the points of view of Kate and Pat, dovetailing the story details nicely. Though the publisher recommends a middle-grade audience, this seems better suited for young teens.

Compulsive reading all the way to the end. (Adventure. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-56489-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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RESISTANCE

Sensitive subject matter that could have benefited from a subtler, more sober touch.

A Jewish girl joins up with Polish resistance groups to fight for her people against the evils of the Holocaust.

Chaya Lindner is forcibly separated from her family when they are consigned to the Jewish ghetto in Krakow. The 16-year-old is taken in by the leaders of Akiva, a fledgling Jewish resistance group that offers her the opportunity to become a courier, using her fair coloring to pass for Polish and sneak into ghettos to smuggle in supplies and information. Chaya’s missions quickly become more dangerous, taking her on a perilous journey from a disastrous mission in Krakow to the ghastly ghetto of Lodz and eventually to Warsaw to aid the Jews there in their gathering uprising inside the walls of the ghetto. Through it all, she is partnered with a secretive young girl whom she is reluctant to trust. The trajectory of the narrative skews toward the sensational, highlighting moments of resistance via cinematic action sequences but not pausing to linger on the emotional toll of the Holocaust’s atrocities. Younger readers without sufficient historical knowledge may not appreciate the gravity of the events depicted. The principal characters lack depth, and their actions and the situations they find themselves in often require too much suspension of disbelief to pass for realism.

Sensitive subject matter that could have benefited from a subtler, more sober touch. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-14847-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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SLIDER

Winning views of a family pulling together, of young people stumbling into adolescence, and of an entertaining if...

Winning a competitive eating contest is David’s only hope of avoiding being grounded for life after he does something stupid with his mother’s credit card.

Already an avid eater and a fan of the “sport,” David Miller, 14, figures that he’s really going to have to up his game after accidently spending $2,000 in an online auction for what is billed as the very hot-dog half that cost pro eater Jooky Garafalo last year’s Nathan’s Famous contest. Fortunately, local pizzeria Pigorino’s is sponsoring a competition at the Iowa State Fair with a $5,000 first prize. Unfortunately, David will have to beat out not only a roster of gifted amateurs to make and win the finals, but also a pair of professionals—notably the renowned but unscrupulous El Gurgitator. As much gourmet as gourmand, David not only vividly chronicles awe-inspiring gustatory feats as he gears up and passes through qualifiers, but describes food with unseemly intensity: “Disks of pepperoni shimmer and glisten on a sea of molten mozzarella.” Even better, though, is the easy, natural way he interacts with Mal, a younger brother whose neurological disability (the term “autistic” is banned from family discourse) transforms but does not conceal a rich internal life. Other subplots, such as a developing relationship between David’s longtime friends Hayden (who is evidently white) and Korean-American Cyn, further enrich a tale in which his own tests and his loving, white family’s determined quest to discover what they dub “Mal’s Rules” both result in thrilling, hard-won triumphs.

Winning views of a family pulling together, of young people stumbling into adolescence, and of an entertaining if controversial pursuit, “reverse-eating events” and all. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9070-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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