Despite third-act flaws, an exciting YA Christian thriller.


Chrissie's Run

Capitalizing on The Hunger Games’ teen-vs.-totalitarianism formula while adding a religious spin, this action-packed first novel follows a teenager fleeing authorities in a repressive future society.

Sixteen-year-old Chrissie, a fledgling Christian, embarks on her titular run after the atheistic government of the New Republic mandates that her deformed baby be aborted. Despite the book’s clearly religious focus, the story never falls into ham-handed preachiness or unsatisfying deus ex machina (aside from one character’s return from an Obi-Wan Kenobi death). Instead, the novel handles its convictions in a method accessible to any reader. Since Chrissie wants to keep her baby, its mandated abortion is abhorrent to all political views, and even an atheist could agree that religious persecution is wrong. (The latter theme also benefits from Mahan’s drawing historic parallels to the persecution of early Christians.) Mahan shows the same deftness with her thriller writing as she does with the religious threads. Chrissie’s tense flight evokes paranoia as the authorities employ clairvoyants and offer a reward for finding her. Her protectors are futuristic presentations of biblical figures like Moses and Samson, while the bad guys are nasty, ruthless supervillains, making for great comic book–like action. The only real nits to pick come in the last third of the book. In captured Chrissie’s re-education center, a “was it all in your head” twist isn’t given enough time to toy with the audience. Elsewhere, the execution-happy New Republic shifts in its attitudes toward her baby, Daniel, conveniently opting to keep him alive to milk his powers. A clumsily written final chapter sets up a sequel.

Despite third-act flaws, an exciting YA Christian thriller.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014


Page Count: 288

Publisher: Tate Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2015

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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