This fast-paced urban quest wears its agenda on its sleeve, but it’s conveyed with verve and an endearing sense of justice

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BURNING MIDNIGHT

A 17-year-old boy and his friends just want enough to survive on in a world where the rich and powerful greedily take everything.

Sully was once "a millionaire for ten minutes, until Alex Holliday's lawyers stopped payment on the check." Sully, a white, working-poor boy from Yonkers, had been conned when only 13 by billionaire exec Holliday for his prize find: a Cherry Red. In the nine years since the brightly colored spheres blanketed the Earth, Cherry Red is still the rarest ever found. Anyone can use up a matched pair of spheres to gain skills—from Slate Gray's singing ability to Mustard's high IQ—so the rich pay millions for marbles that will enhance them in some way. McIntosh’s world is almost exactly like ours, stuffed with pop-culture familiarity (folks read BuzzFeed and watch The Late Show with Stephen Colbert), but the rich enjoy even more privilege. When Sully meets Hunter, a sometimes-homeless Puerto Rican black girl with a tragic back story, she invites him to join her hunt for a fat prize: another rare marble, one valuable enough to give them both security. But when they're on the verge of success, Holliday pops up like a contemporary robber baron. Hunter, Sully, and their friends (a white Italian-American boy and a queer Korean-American girl) road-trip across the country in a race for gold that takes an unexpected but pleasing shift to a film-ready action climax.

This fast-paced urban quest wears its agenda on its sleeve, but it’s conveyed with verve and an endearing sense of justice . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-53410-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.

A MAP OF DAYS

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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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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