FOR MIKE

Strange, recurrent dreams and startling revelations follow the disappearance of a teenager's best friend in this well-knit debut. Three weeks after he drops out of sight, Mike reappears in Jeff's dreams, bloody and begging for help. Turning reluctantly for advice to Berry, a younger schoolmate with an interest in the paranormal, Jeff struggles to find the meaning of his dreams; in conversations with Mike's family, his priest, and a slightly unsavory mutual acquaintance named Jerry Kirby, he discovers facets of Mike—including a comfortable, deeply rooted religious faith—that are utterly new to him. Sykes introduces clues at just the right pace to build suspense, and in Jeff creates a protagonist who, while nursing inner wounds of his own, is capable of recognizing pain in others, and, sometimes, easing it. As he helps shepherd Mike's younger siblings through Halloween, the eventual discovery of Mike's body, the funeral, and sad preparations for Christmas, Jeff emerges as an appealingly sensitive, intelligent young man, sometimes awkward, always willing to shoulder responsibility. Unlike Michael Cadnum's Zero at the Bone (1996), this novel does not leave characters and readers hanging, never to know the truth of things: After Mike's body is found, in a melodramatic graveside scene, Kirby confesses to shooting him by accident. An above-average mystery, with a supernatural twist, a romantic subplot, and answers and forgiveness at the end. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32337-9

Page Count: 197

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1997

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

TRASH

In an unnamed country (a thinly veiled Philippines), three teenage boys pick trash for a meager living. A bag of cash in the trash might be—well, not their ticket out of poverty but at least a minor windfall. With 1,100 pesos, maybe they can eat chicken occasionally, instead of just rice. Gardo and Raphael are determined not to give any of it to the police who've been sniffing around, so they enlist their friend Rat. In alternating and tightly paced points of view, supplemented by occasional other voices, the boys relate the intrigue in which they're quickly enmeshed. A murdered houseboy, an orphaned girl, a treasure map, a secret code, corrupt politicians and 10,000,000 missing dollars: It all adds up to a cracker of a thriller. Sadly, the setting relies on Third World poverty tourism for its flavor, as if this otherwise enjoyable caper were being told by Olivia, the story's British charity worker who muses with vacuous sentimentality on the children that "break your heart" and "change your life." Nevertheless, a zippy and classic briefcase-full-of-money thrill ride. (Thriller. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-75214-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

Did you like this book?

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Did you like this book?

more