Even Anglophiles should take pause.

STAR TURN

If you meet your double, does it mean one of you must die?

It’s 1936, and the youngest member of the Star Turn troupe of British juvenile performers, Ollie Pigott, sees what looks like his twin in the window of a passing train. Could it be his double, or is it just his reflection? Ollie has more pressing problems, like trying to get out of his father’s acting troupe by learning acrobatics (which will also effect an escape from his father’s abuse), so he quickly moves on. American Ralph Halvern, the boy on the other train, is the bored son of a Hollywood movie star, and he immediately becomes obsessed with his look-alike. With the help of the annoying Giselle, a puzzlingly footloose French girl, he slips away from his tutor to search for the face in the window. If the two ever meet, how will their lives change? This taxing historical mystery comes directly from England and is densely flavored with slang; though there is a glossary, it is aimed at modern British children (“Yard: An old measurement…Just under a metre”) and does little to illuminate American readers. The excruciatingly slow plot doesn’t begin until page 70, and the subsequent scenes of mistaken identity quickly become tiresome. What could have been an interesting riff on The Prince and the Pauper with a nice surprise twist instead plays fast and loose with readers’ credulity to a shameful extent.

Even Anglophiles should take pause. (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-908458-16-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Inside Pocket

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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

LEGEND

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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