THE NICHOLAS FACTOR

In this junior-grade spy thriller Myers moves from his easy colloquial stories of good-doing Harlem teens to older characters—narrator Gerald McQuillen is a 17-year-old college freshman—and a less innocent, warier view of self-appointed world-savers. The youth group in question is an international organization called the Crusaders, recruited from "the brightest and the best" by Marvin, a middle-aged American professor inspired by a vision of the children's crusade and its ten-year-old German leader. Gerald, who sees the Crusaders as smug elitists, turns down an invitation to join—until he's contacted by a government agent who wants him to keep an eye on the group. Soon, then, Gerald is with a Crusader corps in deepest Peru, on a cockamamie project reputedly designed to shoe the natives against a parasite that enters through the feet, but actually set up by the power-hungry right-wing German Crusader Kohler to discredit Marvin and take over the group. "Boy scouting around the jungle," as Gerald well puts it, he suspects that something is "all wrong." He is sure of it when his African roommate Andwele becomes fatally ill; and finally Gerald and girl Crusader Jennifer are fleeing the camp by boat and plane and rented car, closely pursued by Kohler whose deliberately contaminated water and "medicine" has managed to kill not only Andwele but a lot of local Indians as well. The chase and the boy-girl match are strictly standard stuff; and if The Nicholas Factor represents a shaky advance in political sophistication, the implausible motivation of all the Crusaders, villains and dupes alike, requires an overgenerous suspension of judgment.

Pub Date: May 23, 1983

ISBN: 0670510556

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1983

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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