Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The Flinkwater Factor/ Shadows of Sherwood

24885780Hautman, Pete. The Flinkwater Factor.
September 1st 2015 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

When people, including Ginger's father, are sent into a comatose state by a new D-Monix tablet, Ginger and her friend (and crush) Billy George, try to figure out what is going on. Billy manages to undo the damage caused by a screen saver with subliminal images, but the two find other evil going on in the small tech town of Flinkwater, Iowa. Along with animal-loving Myke, the two find a division of ACPOD (the town's robot manufacturer) that has come up with a device that will translate animals' thoughts into speech. They free Redge, a dog, as well as an evil little monkey. Their exploits include traveling through secret passages in the sewer system, fights with Homeland Security, finding the long-lost founded of ACPOD, and a little romance as they try to figure out the corporate battle between two tech giants.
Strengths: This was a lot of fun, and the technology was super! There are notes in the back detailing whether things in the book are science, science-y, or fantasy. I loved Ginger, the idea of a small town like Flinkwater, and the talking animals. This was similar to the Lots of Bots series or the Frank Einstein books, or even Korman's Masterminds, and I am enjoying the trend of kids interested in science defeated evil corporations.
Weaknesses: The cover! Even though the boys at my library have been really good about reading books with girls on the cover, having Ginger on the cover wearing pink will cause a few readers to refuse to pick this up! Why not a picture of Ginger, Myke and Billy, along with Redge?
What I really thought: I got a bit confused when reading this-- what was the major threat? I will attribute this confusion to my Pernicious Fantasy Amnesia rather than the writing, which moved along quite well and wasn't confusing at all.

22929592Magoon, Kekla. Shadows of Sherwood. (Robyn Hoodlum #1)
August 4th 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Robyn likes to go adventuring, climbing out of the window of her room in her parents' mansion and frequenting junk yards where she can get outdated technology. After one foray, however, her parents are missing. Nott City, where she lives and her parents were involved in Parliament, has been taken over by Ignomus Crown, who has turned the place into a police state and has barred the poor from going into the woods. Robyn doesn't know what to do-- she can't use her Tag to get groceries or supplies, and she can't go home because the government has taken it over. She does have a map and a hologram from her father, as well as some stories that he told her. She also finds Laurel, a street urchin with more survival skills, and eventually meets up with Key, who has a well stocked fort in the woods where he allows them to stay. Other helpers along the way include Eveline, who has a magnificent braid similar to Robyn's, and who instructs her on moon lore, which seems to be an integral part of Robyn's father's stories and survival strategy. When Robyn tries to help some people, they are arrested. Feeling guilty, she breaks them out of jail and embarks on a mission to bring good to the disenfranchised, always taking credit so that others don't get into trouble on her behalf.
Strengths: Magoon is an excellent writer, so reading this was quite fun, and the twist on the Robin Hood legend is a good one.  It's nicely diverse, with Robyn's father being black and from the poverty stricken district that he has been trying to help out, and her mother being white. This is hard to find in middle grade fiction, much less in FANTASY books. If the dystopian setting didn't make this fantasy, the moon lore certainly does.
Weaknesses: There was so much going on in this that the moon lore wasn't necessary. The book bogged down for me on these sections, although I can see why Magoon included them. It would have been a tighter book with just the dystopia and government unfairness.
What I really think: I need to reread some Robin Hood tales and figure out who all of the characters are supposed to be. Who is Key in the original? Made me think.

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