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Superpowered fun with depth besides.

One family stands between a city and destruction.

In an alternate future North America, Malcolm has trained to be a Guardian along with the rest of his uniquely superpowered family, the Gravenhursts. They are known as the city’s protectors against the klek, mysterious alien robot adversaries, as well as leaders in technological innovation. Now, on his 15th birthday, Malcolm’s wish is finally coming true, as he is presented to the public at a media event. But Malcolm wants to help people by fighting regular street crime, like the superheroes he idolizes from old comic books. He makes a rare exit from his family’s towering skyscraper and goes on patrol only to find something unexpected: Drew, someone else with powers. Drew introduces him to Blair and Kazue, more superpowered kids; their friend Ibrahim is missing, along with others. Initially thrilled, sheltered Malcolm isn’t expecting to learn from them that people’s powers don’t work outside the city limits and that his family has some connection to these unsettling truths. Arbuthnott revels in some tried-and-true aspects of superhero stories—presenting lots of action, pondering questions of morality, and protecting humanity against alien invaders—making for exhilarating storytelling. But the book goes deeper as Malcolm comes face to face with the limitations of his earlier, limited understanding of crime, policing, and society. Malcolm is White; Drew and Blair have dark skin, Kazue’s name indicates Japanese heritage (she and Blair are girlfriends), and Ibrahim is cued as being of Middle Eastern descent.

Superpowered fun with depth besides. (Science fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2704-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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A captivating book situated in present-day discourse around the refugee crisis, featuring two boys who stand by their high...

Two parallel stories, one of a Syrian boy from Aleppo fleeing war, and another of a white American boy, son of a NATO contractor, dealing with the challenges of growing up, intersect at a house in Brussels.

Ahmed lost his father while crossing the Mediterranean. Alone and broke in Europe, he takes things into his own hands to get to safety but ends up having to hide in the basement of a residential house. After months of hiding, he is discovered by Max, a boy of similar age and parallel high integrity and courage, who is experiencing his own set of troubles learning a new language, moving to a new country, and being teased at school. In an unexpected turn of events, the two boys and their new friends Farah, a Muslim Belgian girl, and Oscar, a white Belgian boy, successfully scheme for Ahmed to go to school while he remains in hiding the rest of the time. What is at stake for Ahmed is immense, and so is the risk to everyone involved. Marsh invites art and history to motivate her protagonists, drawing parallels to gentiles who protected Jews fleeing Nazi terror and citing present-day political news. This well-crafted and suspenseful novel touches on the topics of refugees and immigrant integration, terrorism, Islam, Islamophobia, and the Syrian war with sensitivity and grace.

A captivating book situated in present-day discourse around the refugee crisis, featuring two boys who stand by their high values in the face of grave risk and succeed in drawing goodwill from others. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-30757-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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