The strange pacing sometimes makes the book feel unbalanced, but the action sequences are worth the wait.

MARS EVACUEES

In a future in which alien intervention has drastically reversed global warming, British schoolgirl Alice Dare discovers that, instead of beginning a new semester at Muckling Abbot School for Girls, she's been drafted into basic training on Mars, fighting the enemies of the human race.

Science-fiction novels have always borrowed from one another, but it’s surprising how many different tropes McDougall employs. There’s plenty of space warfare, of course, but there are also scenes that resemble stories about boarding schools. And when the students meet the Morrors, the dialogue owes a huge debt to Adam Rex’s The True Meaning of Smekday (2007). Oddly enough, all this sampling and shifting of tone increase the novel’s suspense. The second half of the story is one reversal after another, and that makes up for the much slower early chapters. People reading the first 50 pages may start to list things the characters aren’t doing: They don’t encounter aliens. They don’t fire weapons. They don’t go to Mars. There is, however, a fair amount of schoolwork. Alice’s deadpan narration is always entertaining, and a few sentences are dazzling, like a description of Earth from far away: “And then we saw a pale bluish star that was brighter than the others, and it grew in the dark, like a flower.”

The strange pacing sometimes makes the book feel unbalanced, but the action sequences are worth the wait. (Science fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-229399-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more