An engaging tale of reemerging dinosaurs and superb tween heroes.

ARKO

THE DARK UNION

In this middle-grade SF/fantasy debut, a group of bright kids makes a world-changing discovery in Mexico.

Ben, Ariel, and three of their friends, who live in Israel, are spending their summer vacations with their scientist parents in Yucatán. Ariel’s father leads a team researching Mayan priests, but it’s the 12-year-old kids who unearth a significant find. While off on their own, they enter a cave leading to a cylindrical machine. This seven-seater, which apparently runs on automatic pilot, takes the gang, which includes Amir, Gaia, and Abigail, to a room of amazing sights. Most astonishing is a collection of dinosaurs, from reptilian creatures in aquariums to Pterosaur eggs. The friends’ parents soon join Ben and the others, and the group surmises that the kids “activated” this special room telepathically. So when the Pterosaur babies hatch, the youngsters wear EEG helmets to link their brainwaves with the dinosaurs’. Each tween chooses, names, and ultimately rides a Pterosaur, as the five reptiles soon learn how to fly. Though the parents wisely keep this discovery a secret as long as possible, dangerous people track them down and demand specifics on the dinosaurs. Leo’s series opener features a diverse cast of adolescents, including Native American Gaia and Russian immigrant Abigail. They’re each intelligent and much more levelheaded than the adults. The parents, for example, often bicker and grumble—scenes that the tale plays for laughs, such as a scientist telling her peers they’re “acting like babies.” The author shrouds the narrative in ambiguity as characters piece together myriad theories from a “series of assumptions,” hoping to explain everything that’s in the room. This entails a wide range of entertaining possibilities, like aliens and varying religions. An added menace amps up the story’s latter half when an environmental message slowly comes to light. Nevertheless, most readers will guess who the villains are well before the reveal.

An engaging tale of reemerging dinosaurs and superb tween heroes.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 325

Publisher: Ultra Particle

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 58

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic.

ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS

An Irish teen grapples with past misdeeds and newfound ties to magic.

When 16-year-old Maeve discovers a deck of tarot cards stashed with a mixtape of moody indie music from 1990, she starts giving readings for her classmates at her all-girls private school. Though her shame over dumping her strange friend Lily during an attempt to climb the social ladder at St. Bernadette’s is still palpable, it doesn’t stop her from trying to use the tarot in her favor to further this goal. However, after speaking harsh words to Lily during a reading, Maeve is horrified when her former friend later disappears. As she struggles to understand the forces at play within her, classmate Fiona proves to be just the friend Maeve needs. Detailed, interesting characters carry this contemporary story of competing energy and curses. Woven delicately throughout are chillingly eerie depictions of the Housekeeper, a figure who shows up on an extra card in the deck, echoing the White Lady legend from Irish folklore. Even more disturbing is an organization of young people led by a homophobic but charismatic figurehead intent on provoking backlash against Ireland’s recent civil rights victories. Most characters are White; Fiona is biracial, with a Filipina mother and White Irish father. Roe, Maeve’s love interest and Lily’s sibling, is a bisexual, genderqueer person who is a target for intolerance in their small city of Kilbeg.

An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic. (Paranormal. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1394-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more