A thrown-together mishmash of fragmentary plot ideas, arbitrary events and discordant themes.

KILL SHOT

The discovery of a sunken World War II submarine plunges a rootless Labrador teen into a whirl of weird revelations and deadly danger.

Writing as if he were paid by the plotline, Bunn takes an actual news item about a similar find and spins around it a mare’s nest of premises and genre tropes. Having been shuttled for years among successive sets of exploitative foster parents and a group home, Wednesday skeptically fetches up in a run-down trailer with an out-of-work handyman and an airheaded beautician. Then, rambles in the nearby woods bring him encounters with Stump (aka Emily), a rough-hewn hermit’s home-schooled (but strangely well-socialized) daughter, and also the hidden hatch of a U-boat. Intercut flashbacks reveal that the German sub sank in the local river during a secret mission 70-plus years ago. The skeleton-filled sub contains both leads to a murderous spy ring still operating nearby and (shades of Dan Brown) an ancient weapon slated to join a cache of like mystical artifacts stolen by the Nazis. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the author leaves much unexplained (how did that sub come to be buried in dry ground?), is unable to maintain either logical or tonal consistency, and brings the tale to a confused climax that combines kidnappings, gunfire and laxatives.

A thrown-together mishmash of fragmentary plot ideas, arbitrary events and discordant themes. (Thriller. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-938463-53-2

Page Count: 378

Publisher: Bitingduck Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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I AM NUMBER FOUR

From the Lorien Legacies series , Vol. 1

If it were a Golden Age comic, this tale of ridiculous science, space dogs and humanoid aliens with flashlights in their hands might not be bad. Alas... Number Four is a fugitive from the planet Lorien, which is sloppily described as both "hundreds of lightyears away" and "billions of miles away." Along with eight other children and their caretakers, Number Four escaped from the Mogadorian invasion of Lorien ten years ago. Now the nine children are scattered on Earth, hiding. Luckily and fairly nonsensically, the planet's Elders cast a charm on them so they could only be killed in numerical order, but children one through three are dead, and Number Four is next. Too bad he's finally gained a friend and a girlfriend and doesn't want to run. At least his newly developing alien powers means there will be screen-ready combat and explosions. Perhaps most idiotic, "author" Pittacus Lore is a character in this fiction—but the first-person narrator is someone else entirely. Maybe this is a natural extension of lightly hidden actual author James Frey's drive to fictionalize his life, but literature it ain't. (Science fiction. 11-13)

     

 

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-196955-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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With so many top-notch writers on tap, it's surprising this collection is only solid rather than exquisite; still, those...

WHAT YOU WISH FOR

A BOOK FOR DARFUR

This charitable benefit anthology gathers all-stars for both hits and misses on the theme of wishing.

Twelve stories are accompanied by five poems and one warmly vivid graphic short. Francisco X. Stork introduces Pablito, Breaker-Breaker and Sherry B in a stellar tale of teens supporting one another in a group home. Sofia Quintero's "The Great Wall," about a Jamaican-American girl with a thing for the Chinese-food delivery guy, is entertaining enough to overcome its brick-to-the-head lack of subtlety. Meg Cabot's nerdy hero, seeking a friend, is heartbreakingly funny. The stories cover First World problems, far from the Sudanese refugees described in the saccharine foreword by Mia Farrow, but that distance only helps the collection. John Green's "Reasons" directly addresses some of the moral issues underlying the desire to rescue people from other countries in a thought-provoking piece about a boy in love with a sponsored Kashmiri child. Ann M. Martin's epistolary tale shows two girls with different sets of financial and social problems finding support in each other's friendship. As for the poetry, with offerings from Naomi Shihab Nye, Marilyn Nelson, Gary Soto and Nikki Giovanni, even these tiny verses are lovely.

With so many top-notch writers on tap, it's surprising this collection is only solid rather than exquisite; still, those readers willing to brave anthologies will be rewarded . (Anthology. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25454-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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