February 11th 2014 by EgmontUSA
After Popular Clone and Cloneward Bound, Fisher and Two are trying to work out a system with which they both agree. Fisher is supposed to be allowed to go as himself to the dance so that he can dance with Veronica, so Two goes in costume. Things get bad when Three shows up and causes complete chaos. Fisher realizes he can't hide Two anymore, so he tells his parents about him. The parents are remarkably cool about this, rename Two "Alex" and register him as a cousin at Fisher's school. Three, however, is still up to no good and releases airborn chemicals that make the whole world crazy. The teachers don't show up, and Fisher takes over as principal for a few days before realizing that Three also has a bot army. Dr. X is involved, but wants to destroy Three and enlists Fisher and Alex's help. There's a lot of action, the destruction of most of the middle school, some good anti-bullying scenes with the "Vikings", and some awesome gadgets.
Strengths: Admittedly, I didn't really want to read this, but once I started I was sucked right in with the clever lines, clever gadgets, and odd, random things like sneaking a pig into a movie theater by making it a costume so that he appeared to be a loaf of bread. A fun ride, this series goes over well with readers of books like Rylander's The Fourth Stall and Anderson's Sidekicked.
Weaknesses: Could have used more about the romance with Veronica, and I had trouble telling whether Dr. X was evil or not. While this could be the last book in the series, I wonder if there might be another one.
Raabe, Emily. Lost Children of the Far Islands.
April 8th 2014 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
ARC from Baker and Taylor
Gus and Leo enjoy their life in Maine even though their younger sister Ila is extremely sensitive and selectively mute. When their mother gets sick, however, they end up being sent to a far off island to stay with an older woman, the Morai, who is sort of their grandmother but also the guardian who protects the world from the evil Dobhar-chu. It turns out that all of the children are Folk, who can shape shift, and that's what is wrong with Ila. The children need to help fight the monster in order to save the world, themselves, and their mother. Along with the Bedell, the children try to fight Dobhar-chu and put him permanently to rest.
Strengths: Bonus points for using Celtic mythology, and for a fair amount of action and adventure. Avid readers of fantasy will find this a refreshing change from standard fare.
Weaknesses: Rather depressing, and Ila worried me at the beginning of the book, because it seemed like she was perhaps severely autistic but the parents were in denial. The mother's illness is particularly scary, and the whole book had a feeling of a desperate need to save the world rather than adventure, which I found depressing. Somehow, even though there are difficulties, it's supposed to be more fun to save the world, even from an evil, fur-covered mythical cryptid.