WOLF TOWER

Lee (Saint Fire, not reviewed, etc.) opens a new series framed, belt and suspenders, in chapters and diary entries. Having grown up serving a petty, vicious princess, Claidi jumps at the chance to help in the escape of Nemian, a handsome, imprisoned prince. In their journey across the barren Waste, the pair weather dust storm and monster attack, pass through towns where sheep and clocks are worshipped, and encounter the Hulta, nomads led by Argul, a kingly youth who takes a shine to Claidi. She is attracted to him, too, especially after he rescues her from a sacrificial rite, but though familiarity has worn some of Nemian’s glitter away, Claidi decides to go on with the prince to his home in distant Wolf Tower. To her dismay, she discovers that Nemian is already married, and that she is the victim of an elaborate ruse designed to force her back into servitude. Lee gives Claidi a modern-sounding voice—believing that some of the Hulta voted against her rescue: “Now when I talk to them, I wonder which ones didn't think I was worth the trouble. I don't blame them. But yuk”—and regards the religion and politics of the Waste's residents sardonically. In the end, Argul rescues her again, and off the two ride into upcoming sequels. A diverting escapade for fans of Karen Cushman’s Catherine, Called Birdy (1994), Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted (1997), and the like. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-525-46394-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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I AM NUMBER FOUR

From the Lorien Legacies series , Vol. 1

If it were a Golden Age comic, this tale of ridiculous science, space dogs and humanoid aliens with flashlights in their hands might not be bad. Alas... Number Four is a fugitive from the planet Lorien, which is sloppily described as both "hundreds of lightyears away" and "billions of miles away." Along with eight other children and their caretakers, Number Four escaped from the Mogadorian invasion of Lorien ten years ago. Now the nine children are scattered on Earth, hiding. Luckily and fairly nonsensically, the planet's Elders cast a charm on them so they could only be killed in numerical order, but children one through three are dead, and Number Four is next. Too bad he's finally gained a friend and a girlfriend and doesn't want to run. At least his newly developing alien powers means there will be screen-ready combat and explosions. Perhaps most idiotic, "author" Pittacus Lore is a character in this fiction—but the first-person narrator is someone else entirely. Maybe this is a natural extension of lightly hidden actual author James Frey's drive to fictionalize his life, but literature it ain't. (Science fiction. 11-13)

     

 

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-196955-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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LETTERS FROM THE MOUNTAIN

In a clumsy take on a well-used premise (see also the review of Winifred Morris's Liar, below), an at-risk city teenager is sent to his country relatives for attitude correction. To get Taylor away from bad friends, his mother dispatches him to the mountain home of his great-aunt and great-uncle near tiny Pandora, Texas. Although he carries a switchblade and shoplifts, Taylor makes an unconvincing juvie-in-training; despite failing English, he sends off long, glib letters to his friends—and vicious hate mail to his mother—describing how stupid and boring everything is, meanwhile pitching in with a will at the local grist mill and general store. He spends most of his wages on gifts for the children of an abusive, itinerant ``post-cutter'' and tree-poacher, teaching them to read in exchange for shooting lessons from the eldest of them, Jesse Lee. In a lachrymose climax, Taylor's mother shows up and confesses that she shot his father in a hunting accident, and Taylor owns up to a prank that left its victim in a coma. Garland (Cabin 102, 1995, etc.) only outlines the ending: Taylor is sentenced to a term of community service in a teen literacy center, spends his spare time at his victim's bedside, and gets an uplifting letter from Jesse Lee. An intriguing supporting cast goes to waste in a weak, uneven story. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-200661-3

Page Count: 211

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1996

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