Readers will happily strap in for the ride, if only to see where it takes them.

THE DIAMOND THIEF

From the Diamond Thief series , Vol. 1

Romance, political skullduggery and fantastical inventions giddily complicate a jewel heist.

Sixteen year-old French circus performer Rémy Brunel, a daredevil trapeze artist (and accomplished thief) in Victorian London, is tasked with stealing the Darya-ye Noor, a gem of extraordinary size and beauty. Rémy—nimble, clever and uncannily lucky—pulls off the feat on her first visit to the gem’s exhibition in the Tower of London, thanks to elderly Lord Abernathy, who accidentally smashes the gem’s security case as he collapses to the floor. Rémy assumes she’s been efficient, but the gem she’s stolen is a fake, a revelation that launches her into a caper more complex and dangerous than any she’s undertaken before. She must navigate dangerous, filthy London, enter into an uneasy (yet increasingly affectionate) alliance with Thaddeus Rec, a police detective also suspected of stealing the jewel, and outwit wealthy villains armed with steampunk-y weapons. The whole affair often feels like an episode of Doctor Who: It’s filled with running and exhilarating physical danger, many quippy, colorful characters and even some titanium suits strongly reminiscent of Cybermen. This is no bad thing. The plot groans a bit under the weight of all the twists and piled-on characters, but, like Rémy, it sticks a fairly satisfying landing in the end.

Readers will happily strap in for the ride, if only to see where it takes them. (Steampunk. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-63079-002-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Switch/Capstone

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful.

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SALT TO THE SEA

January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens’ lives converge in hopes of escape.

Returning to the successful formula of her highly lauded debut, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys combines research (described in extensive backmatter) with well-crafted fiction to bring to life another little-known story: the sinking (from Soviet torpedoes) of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff. Told in four alternating voices—Lithuanian nurse Joana, Polish Emilia, Prussian forger Florian, and German soldier Alfred—with often contemporary cadences, this stints on neither history nor fiction. The three sympathetic refugees and their motley companions (especially an orphaned boy and an elderly shoemaker) make it clear that while the Gustloff was a German ship full of German civilians and soldiers during World War II, its sinking was still a tragedy. Only Alfred, stationed on the Gustloff, lacks sympathy; almost a caricature, he is self-delusional, unlikable, a Hitler worshiper. As a vehicle for exposition, however, and a reminder of Germany’s role in the war, he serves an invaluable purpose that almost makes up for the mustache-twirling quality of his petty villainy. The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn’t change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning.

Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful. (author’s note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-16030-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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