For Minecraft fans whose game consoles are broken.



“Same as it ever was….”

These are the lyrics to the classic Talking Heads song that keeps repeating in the mind of the narrator, who has awakened underwater and surfaced in the world of Minecraft. Stumbling onto dry land, the narrator realizes that its body is not human but rather made head to toe of blocks. It has no memory of how it arrived in this world and finds itself in a moment-to-moment survival adventure. The world is Earth-like, with trees, seeds, and fruit. There’s a grazing area for blocky farm animals the narrator calls Disappointment Hill, where it befriends a cow that it later deems a best friend. The stranded protagonist is not alone, as no Minecraft world is without enemies, including stalker zombies and skeleton archers who lurk and strike with no real purpose other than to antagonize the anonymous protagonist. Each chapter title is a life lesson learned by the main character as it imagines its way to survival. Unlike Robinson Crusoe, whose castaway protagonist’s existential journey has a history that leaves readers invested in his survival, this tale loses its punch in the tedious, mundane details of Minecraft worldbuilding that are best suited to devotees of the video game. Upon reading the list of life lessons presented after the epilogue, readers may well feel that it may be far more interesting to play the actual video game than to read about it.

For Minecraft fans whose game consoles are broken. (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: July 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-18177-1

Page Count: 271

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2017

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Sensitive subject matter that could have benefited from a subtler, more sober touch.


A Jewish girl joins up with Polish resistance groups to fight for her people against the evils of the Holocaust.

Chaya Lindner is forcibly separated from her family when they are consigned to the Jewish ghetto in Krakow. The 16-year-old is taken in by the leaders of Akiva, a fledgling Jewish resistance group that offers her the opportunity to become a courier, using her fair coloring to pass for Polish and sneak into ghettos to smuggle in supplies and information. Chaya’s missions quickly become more dangerous, taking her on a perilous journey from a disastrous mission in Krakow to the ghastly ghetto of Lodz and eventually to Warsaw to aid the Jews there in their gathering uprising inside the walls of the ghetto. Through it all, she is partnered with a secretive young girl whom she is reluctant to trust. The trajectory of the narrative skews toward the sensational, highlighting moments of resistance via cinematic action sequences but not pausing to linger on the emotional toll of the Holocaust’s atrocities. Younger readers without sufficient historical knowledge may not appreciate the gravity of the events depicted. The principal characters lack depth, and their actions and the situations they find themselves in often require too much suspension of disbelief to pass for realism.

Sensitive subject matter that could have benefited from a subtler, more sober touch. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-14847-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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From the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series , Vol. 1

Edgar Award–winning Riordan leaves the adult world of mystery to begin a fantasy series for younger readers. Twelve-year-old Percy (full name, Perseus) Jackson has attended six schools in six years. Officially diagnosed with ADHD, his lack of self-control gets him in trouble again and again. What if it isn’t his fault? What if all the outrageous incidents that get him kicked out of school are the result of his being a “half-blood,” the product of a relationship between a human and a Greek god? Could it be true that his math teacher Mrs. Dodds transformed into a shriveled hag with bat wings, a Fury, and was trying to kill him? Did he really vanquish her with a pen that turned into a sword? One need not be an expert in Greek mythology to enjoy Percy’s journey to retrieve Zeus’s master bolt from the Underworld, but those who are familiar with the deities and demi-gods will have many an ah-ha moment. Along the way, Percy and his cohort run into Medusa, Cerberus and Pan, among others. The sardonic tone of the narrator’s voice lends a refreshing air of realism to this riotously paced quest tale of heroism that questions the realities of our world, family, friendship and loyalty. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7868-5629-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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