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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HATCHET

A prototypical survival story: after an airplane crash, a 13-year-old city boy spends two months alone in the Canadian wilderness. In transit between his divorcing parents, Brian is the plane's only passenger. After casually showing him how to steer, the pilot has a heart attack and dies. In a breathtaking sequence, Brian maneuvers the plane for hours while he tries to think what to do, at last crashing as gently and levelly as he can manage into a lake. The plane sinks; all he has left is a hatchet, attached to his belt. His injuries prove painful but not fundamental. In time, he builds a shelter, experiments with berries, finds turtle eggs, starts a fire, makes a bow and arrow to catch fish and birds, and makes peace with the larger wildlife. He also battles despair and emerges more patient, prepared to learn from his mistakes—when a rogue moose attacks him and a fierce storm reminds him of his mortality, he's prepared to make repairs with philosophical persistence. His mixed feelings surprise him when the plane finally surfaces so that he can retrieve the survival pack; and then he's rescued. Plausible, taut, this is a spellbinding account. Paulsen's staccato, repetitive style conveys Brian's stress; his combination of third-person narrative with Brian's interior monologue pulls the reader into the story. Brian's angst over a terrible secret—he's seen his mother with another man—is undeveloped and doesn't contribute much, except as one item from his previous life that he sees in better perspective, as a result of his experience. High interest, not hard to read. A winner.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1987

ISBN: 1416925082

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1987

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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