Uneven, but the quality improves as the story progresses.


From the Undertakers series , Vol. 2

Will Ritter continues the battle started in Rise of the Corpses (2011) to protect humanity from the corpse-possessing invaders from another dimension.

When a surveillance mission provides an opportunity to unearth a Corpse plot still in development, and with the new knowledge of how to use salt to kill the interdimensional invaders, the human Undertakers can take the offensive in their war over the world. To do this, they face the titular queen, sophisticated Lilith Cavanaugh, who has replaced the late Kenny Booth as the leader of the invaders. She blends a higher level of competence with a downright savage monstrosity, posing a much more pragmatic threat than Booth did. Alternating with Will's first-person narration, chapters written in third-person that focus on Lilith reveal more about the world the Corpses come from as well as their purpose. Lilith makes the fight personal for Will and in doing so, raises the stakes. While the first part of the story drags, near the end, a switch is flipped, and the story comes to life with a daring plan. Additional ponderings on corpse theft that go beyond gross-out descriptions, as well as the clear consequences of battle and lack of adult support, give moral and emotional dimensions to the otherwise straightforward story.

Uneven, but the quality improves as the story progresses. (Science fiction/horror. 10-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7557-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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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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