THE NICHOLAS FACTOR

In this junior-grade spy thriller Myers moves from his easy colloquial stories of good-doing Harlem teens to older characters—narrator Gerald McQuillen is a 17-year-old college freshman—and a less innocent, warier view of self-appointed world-savers. The youth group in question is an international organization called the Crusaders, recruited from "the brightest and the best" by Marvin, a middle-aged American professor inspired by a vision of the children's crusade and its ten-year-old German leader. Gerald, who sees the Crusaders as smug elitists, turns down an invitation to join—until he's contacted by a government agent who wants him to keep an eye on the group. Soon, then, Gerald is with a Crusader corps in deepest Peru, on a cockamamie project reputedly designed to shoe the natives against a parasite that enters through the feet, but actually set up by the power-hungry right-wing German Crusader Kohler to discredit Marvin and take over the group. "Boy scouting around the jungle," as Gerald well puts it, he suspects that something is "all wrong." He is sure of it when his African roommate Andwele becomes fatally ill; and finally Gerald and girl Crusader Jennifer are fleeing the camp by boat and plane and rented car, closely pursued by Kohler whose deliberately contaminated water and "medicine" has managed to kill not only Andwele but a lot of local Indians as well. The chase and the boy-girl match are strictly standard stuff; and if The Nicholas Factor represents a shaky advance in political sophistication, the implausible motivation of all the Crusaders, villains and dupes alike, requires an overgenerous suspension of judgment.

Pub Date: May 23, 1983

ISBN: 0670510556

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1983

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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