A realistic if gently didactic tale about growing up and parenting.

READ REVIEW

APPLE AND RAIN

Apple’s got plenty to contend with: her best friend’s deserted her, the boy she’s attracted to barely knows she exists, and her overprotective Nana is a source of embarrassment at school—but what hurts most is her glamorous mother’s abandonment 11 years ago.

At first, her mother’s unexpected return feels like a dream come true, but Apple’s euphoria fades when she realizes Mum didn’t return to rescue her but to be rescued herself from having to raise her younger daughter, Rain, 10, whose existence is a surprise to Apple and Nana, Mum’s mother. Apple, 14, suppresses her doubts when she’s invited to move in with Mum and Rain—the prospect trumps life with Nana. At least Mum won’t insist on driving Apple to school. Instead, Mum urges alcohol on Apple and her classmates, flirts with Apple’s crush, and disappears for days at a time, leaving Apple to skip school and care for troubled Rain. Her English teacher’s poetry assignments encourage Apple, a budding writer, to examine and express her complicated feelings, giving rise to important insights. Her friendship with a new classmate, Del, is a further support. Appealing but naïve, Apple feels more preteen than teen. Most characters, including Nana and Rain, are compassionately drawn—the exception is Mum, whose monstrous narcissism goes far beyond anything Nana’s self-confessed strict parenting can explain.

A realistic if gently didactic tale about growing up and parenting. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61963-690-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Awful on a number of levels—but tidily over at last.

THE STARS BELOW

From the Vega Jane series , Vol. 4

The rebellion against an evil archmage and his bowler-topped minions wends its way to a climax.

Dispatching five baddies on the first two pages alone, wand-waving villain-exterminator Vega Jane gathers a motley army of fellow magicals, ghosts, and muggles—sorry, “Wugmorts”—for a final assault on Necro and his natty Maladons. As Necro repeatedly proves to be both smarter and more powerful than Vega Jane, things generally go badly for the rebels, who end up losing their hidden refuge, many of their best fighters, and even the final battle. Baldacci is plainly up on his ancient Greek theatrical conventions, however; just as all hope is lost, a divinity literally descends from the ceiling to referee a winner-take-all duel, and thanks to an earlier ritual that (she and readers learn) gives her a do-over if she’s killed (a second deus ex machina!), Vega Jane comes away with a win…not to mention an engagement ring to go with the magic one that makes her invisible and a new dog, just like the one that died heroically. Measuring up to the plot’s low bar, the narrative too reads like low-grade fanfic, being laden with references to past events, characters who only supposedly died, and such lines as “a spurt of blood shot out from my forehead,” “they started falling at a rapid number,” and “[h]is statement struck me on a number of levels.”

Awful on a number of levels—but tidily over at last. (glossary) (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-26393-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more