From the City of Sand series , Vol. 2

Battered but unbowed after their last adventure (The City of Sand, 2017), grave robbers Tianyi and Kai match wits against a new cast of supernatural beings.

While helping their friend Gold Tooth with his Beijing market antiques stall, they meet a farmer from Shaanxi hoping to sell a valuable Ming dynasty shoe. Tianyi, Kai, and Gold Tooth immediately head west, fired up by the farmer’s tales of treasure-filled tombs in his hometown. Risking life and limb in a maze of haunted caves populated by gigantic spiders—which they end up fleeing clad only in their underthings—Tianyi and Kai are horrified to find their backs marked with a mysterious symbol. Chinese-American archaeologist Julie Yang returns to China reporting that both she and Professor Chen, whose desert expedition the teens led in the previous book, also bear this sign. Julie relates the story of an early-20th-century grave robber whose quest holds clues to this mystery—and, finally, a chance meeting with a blind fortuneteller/con artist points to an expedition in Volume 3 that will tie everything together. The episodic story structure with its delayed resolution may be intriguing to Western readers in its contrast to typical thriller fare, and the blend of derring-do, horror, humor, and a rich invented mythology will sustain interest. The dialogue is refreshingly snark-free, and the boys are considerate of others and respect the behavior code of their profession. Most characters are Han Chinese, but some slightly stereotypical white foreigners feature.

Lively and engaging. (Thriller. 11-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-52414-7

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes


From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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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

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