Thursday, November 15, 2018

Missing Pieces (Hello Neighbor #1)

Anderson, M.T. Apex Predator (Horizon #4)
August 28th 2018 by Scholastic Inc.
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Both the members of the robotics team whose plane went down and the members of the Cub-Tones from the 1950s are still surviving in the scary land of the blue broccoli forests, dealing with exploding fruit and scissor birds. They do find a statue and a tree village, but still do not find any inhabitants. They do come across a journal from a whaling ship in 1855. This shows them that the world they are in has existed for a number of years, but is also an ominous warning that people have been trapped within it for lengthy periods of time. The children discover that music tends to calm one type of giant cyborg, but they also suffer a tragic loss. With Molly and Cal slowly mutating into green skinned creatures, an ever dwindling supply of food, and a plethora of monsters trying to kill them, what will the future hold for these castaways?

Filled with exotic, volatile flora and menacing fauna, surviving the land of Horizon is a non-stop, pulse-pounding adventure. There are plenty of characters, and they all deal with their situation differently. Kira and Akiko can only speak Japanese, so can only communicate with Yoshi, who is bilingual. Molly is determined to be an effective leader, but is concerned about her deterioration and also the threat Hank poses to her power. Other characters like Javi, Crash and Kimberly don't have as much input into this installment, but quietly keep things moving.

The real draw to this series is the video-game type adventure. Doing the simplest task involves a variety of steps, challenges, and attacks. Descriptions of plants and animals almost shimmer with the same intensity of a television screen in a darkened room. Characters make constant decisions, knowing that the wrong one might send boats flying through the air instead of sailing smoothly across the water. Death and destruction wait at every turn.

Readers who enjoy the multi-author 39 Clues or Project Alpha books and want a multi-platform experience will definitely be interested in this series, which is also good for fans of series fiction like Northrup's Tomb Quest, Spradlin's Killer Species or Korman's Titanic.

West, Carly Anne. Missing Pieces (Hello Neighbor #1)
August 28th 2018 by Scholastic Inc.
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Nicky's family moves around a lot, and he gets tired of having to adjudt to new towns, new schools, and new friends. This time, his mother has a good job at the university in Raven Brooks, so he's hoping they can stay. He meets Aaron Peterson, who lives across the street, and the two boys have lots of adventures, breaking into the old Golden Apple candy factory and appropriating electronics for their inventions. There's something a bit strange about the town, and about Aaron's father, and after some research, Nicky finds out some of the back story. The Golden Apple company created an apple themed amusement park, and Mr. Peterson was the engineer who designed the rides. Unfortunately, a seven year old girl was killed after being thrown from a ride that didn't have appropriate safety equipment installed on it, and even though there was no law suit against Mr. Peterson, it ruined his career and made him slightly disturbed. After a tragedy affects the Petersons, Nicky starts to think that maybe there is an even bigger secret hiding in the house, and he attempts to find out what it is before even more bad things happen.

There is apparently a horror video game called Hello, Neighbor, the object of which is to sneak into the basement of neighbors' houses to find hidden secrets. This book would probably make a lot more sense if I were familiar with the game, but it could stand on its own merits as well.

The fact that Nicky's own house was not haunted makes this refreshing, and I really enjoyed the idea of the Golden Apple theme park, since I have a weakness for anything of the sort (especially if it involves Storybook Forest kinds of parks, like Hahn's Closed for the Season! There's also the Wild West theme park in Bowling's Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus. Maybe this will be a new trend!). Nothing is creepier than something that is supposed to be happy and filled with joy that has become derelict and depressing!

Nicky's parents are present and supportive, but they give him a lot of room to roam in his new town, which is good to see. Raven Brooks is a small, quirky town, and Nicky's delving into its history was more interesting to me than the creepy aspect that will appeal to payers of the game.

Scholastic has a wide range of books with popular culture tie-ins, and readers who have to be pulled away from electronics will find some comfort reading in series like Hello Neighbors, Cube Kid's Minecraft, and Baptiste's official Minecraft novels.

Anyone want to guess what now-defunct Ohio theme park is represented by this picture? I only went there once, for a friend's birthday party in the 6th grade, and I rode this roller coaster with a broken arm! (My parents never believed that we were ill or injured, although when soaking my arm in Epsom salts proved ineffective, they did take me to the doctor, who discovered the fall from my bike did, indeed, break my arm in three places!)

Ms. Yingling

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