HELL PHONE

Sleator devotes his considerable talents to a horror story this time. High-school student Nick and his mother live in near-poverty. Because his mother closely monitors use of their home phone, Nick buys a cell phone to talk more frequently to his girlfriend. But this phone brings weird and threatening calls and proves to have a direct connection to Hell. Nick’s life changes—and not for the better. The pitiful and self-pitying Nick, with his limited experience and lack of worldly knowledge, makes a great pawn for the predatory adults he meets when using the cell phone. The many unpleasant characters and the need for a big-time suspension of disbelief (a direct connection to where?) are countered by a dark, involving and fast-moving plot that surprises, shocks and—eventually—terrifies. Sleator cleverly uses Nick’s weaknesses to paint him into a corner, then pulls off a horrifying (but satisfactory) ending. Gross and yucky episodes, a suspense-filled plot and touches of macabre humor will appeal to both horror fans and reluctant readers. (Fiction. 13-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-8109-5479-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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Even those who loved the first book might find too little logic in this conclusion

THE PACK

A group of shape-shifting runaways from the circus, on the run from genocidal hunters, tries to find a home.

Flo, her boyfriend, Jett, and the other shifters just want to find a strong pack to join. The teenagers (all either white or with no identified race) can all shift into an animal form: bears or tigers, parrots or rats, elephants or horses. The frightened escapees, who’ve lost many of their loved ones to hunters, have been seeking some safe place in the woods. The members of this huge cast (with too many names and animal forms to keep track of) have a wide array of agendas. Should they join the wild pack? The wolf pack? Should they even stay together? After brief dramas, many of these newly introduced characters vanish, never to be heard from again. Finally, Flo and the shifters are captured by hunters, who are in league with the lion who used to run their circus, who’d been betraying them for years and who now seeks to strike a bargain. Further dramatic revelations and betrayals await, of course. There’s no attempt to summarize the events of The Wanderers (2015), and with so many characters, side quests, and double crosses, it’s often difficult to keep track.

Even those who loved the first book might find too little logic in this conclusion . (Fantasy. 13-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-1218-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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Interesting plot twists almost carry endless pages of Forbidden Love.

DREAMLESS

Real sexual tension apparently requires all the divine forces in the universe be arrayed against you, if this book is any guide.

Demigods and erstwhile lovers Helen and Lucas can never be together, because they're secretly first cousins. Just in case the couple realizes that relationships between cousins aren't considered incest in their home state of Massachusetts (or 24 other states in the union), Lucas's father explains that the future of the demigod species, nay, of the entire planet depends on the couple staying apart. Because! Of history! And magical things! And could Lucas just stop being so selfish? Lucas responds by pretending to hate Helen, following the standard tortured-angsty-boy recipe for staying away from his girlfriend. Poor Helen, meanwhile, is spending all her sleeping hours traveling the Underworld. She hopes to defeat the Furies and end the senseless feuding that has tormented the semi-divine Scions since the Trojan War, but she can't seem to make any headway in the blasted hellscape of the Underworld. Not to mention, her magical journeys are keeping her from REM sleep, thus probably killing her. At least she's met a hot new Scion in the Underworld to fill the vacancy Lucas left by being such a meanie.

Interesting plot twists almost carry endless pages of Forbidden Love. (Paranormal romance. 13-15)

Pub Date: May 29, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-201201-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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