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TRANSCENDER

FIRST-TIMER: TRANSCENDER TRILOGY BOOK 1

A modern-day Connecticut teenager suddenly shifts dimensions into an alternative America where she finds herself in the body of a love-struck princess in a danger-prone kingdom of intrigues, outlaws and strange creatures.

Jade Beckett is a 17-year-old Connecticut girl still recovering emotionally from the recent cancer death of her mom when a freak storm whisks her into a parallel existence. Jade is an unknowing “transcender,” a person with an innate ability to shift between timelines in presumably infinite alternate realities. Now she’s “Princess Jaden,” imperiled royalty in a strange counterpart of Earth that was devastated by a comet collision hundreds of years ago. Humanity’s tenuous survival has turned civilization into a semifeudal, semitechnological world of quibbling domed city-states. Jaden is immediately embroiled in intrigues between the assorted monarchies as well as delirious, virginity-threatening romance with her true soul mate, Ryder, a hunky half-Cherokee chief-in-training from an apparently enemy nation. Along with this comes the side benefit/curse that Jaden’s mother is alive in this universe, but she’s an imperious queen who treats Ryder the way the Sheriff of Nottingham regarded Robin Hood. Furthermore a mysterious “agent” from a largely unseen transdimensional regulation group keeps reminding Jade(n) that her presence here is a cosmic fluke and that she will have to put aside Ryder and her mom and return home once the agency patches things up. It all ends in a cliffhanger that should keep involved readers salivating for the next installment. Savage is a skilled storyteller (if a little heavy on the pacing and dialogue side), and she knows her stuff well enough to effectively tease the demographic with a subtle Twilight inside-joke. It’s a good move that the Savage fantasy world depicted is no Disney-storybook landscape of unicorns, faeries and mermaids (though elflike mutants and other crypto-creatures make somewhat puzzling cameos). Jade is a likable, media-savvy heroine, even granted that her tae kwon do powers tend to wax and wane as a given situation or abduction demands. There are a plethora of walk-on side characters (oftentimes curvy, gorgeous, potential-rival teen-queens) whose full roles in the drama presumably unfold in upcoming Transcender books, and fans who follow this story to its climax will welcome those installments. While a little slow and formulaic in fits, this girl-power jaunt into high adventure and romance in a parallel universe launches a promising new trilogy in YA fantasy.

 

Pub Date: July 21, 2011

ISBN: B005DR94EI

Page Count: 449

Publisher: Vicky Savage

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2012

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THE ONE AND ONLY FAMILY

From the One and Only series , Vol. 4

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series.

Beloved gorilla Ivan becomes a father to rambunctious twins in this finale to a quartet that began with 2012’s Newbery Award–winning The One and Only Ivan.

Life hasn’t always been easy for silverback gorilla Ivan, who’s spent most of his life being mistreated in captivity. Now he’s living in a wildlife sanctuary, but he still gets to see his two best friends. Young elephant Ruby lives in the grassy habitat next door, and former stray dog Bob has a home with one of the zookeepers. All three were rescued from the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan’s expanded world includes fellow gorilla Kinyani—the two are about to become parents, and Ivan is revisiting the traumas of his past in light of what he wants the twins to know. When the subject inevitably comes up, Applegate’s trust and respect for readers is evident. She doesn’t shy away from hard truths as Ivan wrestles with the fact that poachers killed his family. Readers will need the context provided by knowledge of the earlier books to feel the full emotional impact of this story. The rushed ending unfortunately falls flat, detracting from the central message that a complex life can still contain hope. Final art not seen.

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series. (gorilla games, glossary, author’s note) (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063221123

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

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