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A teenager discovers that his own memories can't be trusted, in another nightmarish tale of alien intrigue from the author of Interstellar Pig (1984) and the more recent Dangerous Wishes (1995). His best friend, Tim, has disappeared, but all Leo can offer police is a wild tale of being abducted by little green men in a futuristic spaceship. The very banality of this "memory" rouses Leo's suspicions, and the plot thickens when Tim shows up two days later—older and bearing a set of disturbing drawings that, he claims, must not fall into the hands of "The Others." Sleator tells all as it happens, so that readers learn most of what's going on before Leo does; The Others, smog-loving shape-shifters bent on devastating the environment, are being chased by "the heads," an alien race of kidnappers. Both tinker with Leo's mind, though the effects prove to be only temporary. The author uses his considerable descriptive skills to make the members of both camps gut-wrenchingly repulsive; although the aliens' schemes are too confusing to follow easily, the author's many fans and readers who like their stories served up with mind-controlled zombies, chases, captures, twists, levitation, tricks, weird science, and horrible monsters with disgusting table manners brandishing oversized syringes will find plenty here to please. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-525-45463-2

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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Paulsen recalls personal experiences that he incorporated into Hatchet (1987) and its three sequels, from savage attacks by moose and mosquitoes to watching helplessly as a heart-attack victim dies. As usual, his real adventures are every bit as vivid and hair-raising as those in his fiction, and he relates them with relish—discoursing on “The Fine Art of Wilderness Nutrition,” for instance: “Something that you would never consider eating, something completely repulsive and ugly and disgusting, something so gross it would make you vomit just looking at it, becomes absolutely delicious if you’re starving.” Specific examples follow, to prove that he knows whereof he writes. The author adds incidents from his Iditarod races, describes how he made, then learned to hunt with, bow and arrow, then closes with methods of cooking outdoors sans pots or pans. It’s a patchwork, but an entertaining one, and as likely to win him new fans as to answer questions from his old ones. (Autobiography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32650-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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Characteristically provocative gothic comedy, with sublime undertones. (Autobiographical fiction. 11-13)

An exhilarating summer marked by death, gore and fire sparks deep thoughts in a small-town lad not uncoincidentally named “Jack Gantos.”

The gore is all Jack’s, which to his continuing embarrassment “would spray out of my nose holes like dragon flames” whenever anything exciting or upsetting happens. And that would be on every other page, seemingly, as even though Jack’s feuding parents unite to ground him for the summer after several mishaps, he does get out. He mixes with the undertaker’s daughter, a band of Hell’s Angels out to exact fiery revenge for a member flattened in town by a truck and, especially, with arthritic neighbor Miss Volker, for whom he furnishes the “hired hands” that transcribe what becomes a series of impassioned obituaries for the local paper as elderly town residents suddenly begin passing on in rapid succession. Eventually the unusual body count draws the—justified, as it turns out—attention of the police. Ultimately, the obits and the many Landmark Books that Jack reads (this is 1962) in his hours of confinement all combine in his head to broaden his perspective about both history in general and the slow decline his own town is experiencing.

Characteristically provocative gothic comedy, with sublime undertones. (Autobiographical fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-37993-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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