Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Princess Juniper of the Hourglass/The Dragonfly Effect

Paquette, Ammi-Joan. Princess Juniper of the Hourglass
July 21st 2015 by Philomel Books
ARC from Publisher

When her thirteenth nameday comes, Princess Juniper must decide what gift she would like. She decides that having her own kingdom, where she can make her own rules, would be a good idea. Luckily, her father the king is on board with the idea, mainly because he wants to get the princess out of Torr because of an attack of Monsians. Juniper only wants to take children under the age of 13 with her, with the exception of her chief adviser, Erick, who is a year older. What she doesn't count on is being rushed out of the country with her retinue and also the odious Cyril and his friends Jessamyn and Root. The group is well provisioned, and the king sends them to a hidden valley that is well supplied with caves on the mountainside in which the group can live. Juniper splits up duties so that there settlement will start to be established, but Cyril's group doesn't want to work. Things go fairly well, but the children get tired, and there isn't enough food because someone is sabotaging the cows and chickens. When Cyril tries to win over the children by promising less work and more parties, Juniper tries to counter his proposals, but feels that there is something sinister about his approach to the community. When there is word from Torr that the country has been attacked and the citizens of the newly formed Queen's Basin must stay put, Juniper must figure out how to stand up against Cyril and keep her new subjects safe.
Strengths: Children surviving on their own is always an excellent topic, and this had a very Boxcar Children feel, right down to washing dishes on the beach and keeping things cool in a stream! Juniper has some stereotypical princess qualities, like wearing pretty gowns and needing her own maid, but she was more egalitarian and hard working than most princesses.
Weaknesses: There were a few odd touches, such as the Beauty Chamber and the overly fawning maid Tippy that weren't strictly necessary. Cyril's presence in the group seemed a bit forced, but since he was the biggest obstacle to be faced, his inclusion makes more sense.
What I really think: I would have loved this in elementary school, and possibly even middle school, when I read O.T.Nelson's The Girl Who Owned the City and had an elaborate daydream involving all of the adults vanishing and a group of kids from my middle school living in the school... with me as the leader, of course! As an adult, it didn't resonate quite the same way, but I can see it being popular with readers of princess or medieval fantasy books.

24000720Korman, Gordon. The Dragonfly Effect (The Hypnotists #3)
28 July 2015, Scholastic
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

With Mako in prison, Jax and the other Hypnotists are under Army protection, living at a secure base and undergoing tests for the Hypnotic Warfare Research Department (HoWaRD), where Captain Brassmeyer and Captain Pedroia are trying to figure out how to best use their powers. Several people from the Sandman's Guild are there, as is the horrible bully Wilson, but the group is also joined by eight year old Stanley, an orphan whose powers rival Jax's. In addition to seeing in Jax can break into a secure military information facility, HoWaRD is working on Operation Aurora, which includes building an entire town so that they can see if Jax's hypnotic suggestions can be piped in to all 750+ residents at once. In the meantime, Mako escapes from prison, and Jax knows that it won't end well if he isn't recaptured, especially since he begins to realize that there are hypnotic suggestions in a game his father is playing, FreeForAll. When Stanley is "adopted" by a relative, Jax is worried enough that he takes off for New York and looks up his friend Tommy to help him. In trying to locate the Sentia headquarters, the two run into Kira, who agrees to help them. Their research leads them to a posh suburb where they locate Stanley and realize that Mako's plans include highjacking a speech being broadcast from the United Nations to a wide audience. Even if Jax knows how to reverse the hypnosis, will he and his group be able to do so in time?

As always, Korman delivers a humorous, rollicking book. The idea of children who can hypnotize people is a fresh one, and Jax struggles with his feelings about his abilities: on the one hand, it is wonderful to be able to bend anyone to his will, but on the other, he knows that he has a great responsibility to use his power for good. While we don't see quite as much of the other hypnotists in this book, we do get a good feel for Jax's parents, the army personnel, and the intriguing new character of Stanley. It was good to see Jax reunited with his good friend, Tommy, as well.

I loved the variety of situations in which Jax found himself. He is appalled when he thinks the army has made him force a pilot to crash his plane, easy-going about breaking into a high security facility, and matter-of-fact about having to leave the army base to make things right with Mako. In all of these situations, the dangers are made clear, and Jax and his friends manage to use their abilities and knowledge to make them come out successfully. After a short rest, we are flung back into the next situation, so this book was a quick read-- I had to know what would happen next!

While this is a worthy sequel to The Hypnotists and Memory Maze, and a great book on its own, I'd be just as happy if it's the end of the series. Three is a great length, and I'm curious to see what happens in Masterminds, as well as what Korman's brilliant middle grade mind will come up with next! He never disappoints!

1 comment:

  1. Argh, I'm so behind on Gordon Korman! And his stuff is so good!