While the coding instruction’s as top-notch as ever, in this installment it’s interpersonal dynamics and characters that,...

POTIONS & PARAMETERS

From the Secret Coders series , Vol. 5

After Robots & Repeats (2017) the heroes code their way into and out of the villainous Dr. One-Zero’s clutches.

After Josh takes point in coding an escape from the vicious ducks with teeth, the coders find Hopper’s father—but unfortunately, he and the other captives have been fed the mind-wiping Green Pop. Even worse, Dr. One-Zero steals Light-Light. They’re trapped with bottles of the Green Pop when Josh finds a hint for the lock’s passcode (interrupting Eni’s earnestly awkward romantic confession to Hopper). The resulting binary-to-ASCII puzzle makes good use of graphics for a quick, crystal clear recap on binary. Liberated, the three kids face pressures—Hopper’s mother wants them to leave town; Eni’s threatened with transfer if his sisters catch him with his friend; Josh feels like a third wheel in the friendship—but only they, and Professor Bee, can stop One-Zero’s latest diabolical scheme. Bee also reveals the truth behind his noselessness in a wild surprise crossover with Edwin Abbott’s Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884). The cliffhanger sees the multiracial trio on the verge of coding a portal into Flatland, and it’s followed by a comedic short that uses coded repeats to find Josh’s dog.

While the coding instruction’s as top-notch as ever, in this installment it’s interpersonal dynamics and characters that, satisfyingly, take center stage. (Graphic science fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-608-6

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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BAMBOO PEOPLE

Well-educated American boys from privileged families have abundant options for college and career. For Chiko, their Burmese counterpart, there are no good choices. There is never enough to eat, and his family lives in constant fear of the military regime that has imprisoned Chiko’s physician father. Soon Chiko is commandeered by the army, trained to hunt down members of the Karenni ethnic minority. Tai, another “recruit,” uses his streetwise survival skills to help them both survive. Meanwhile, Tu Reh, a Karenni youth whose village was torched by the Burmese Army, has been chosen for his first military mission in his people’s resistance movement. How the boys meet and what comes of it is the crux of this multi-voiced novel. While Perkins doesn’t sugarcoat her subject—coming of age in a brutal, fascistic society—this is a gentle story with a lot of heart, suitable for younger readers than the subject matter might suggest. It answers the question, “What is it like to be a child soldier?” clearly, but with hope. (author’s note, historical note) (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58089-328-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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