Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Let the Monster Out and other May Fantasies

Lucas, Chad. Let the Monster Out 
May 17th 2022 by Amulet Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Bones Malone, his mother, and two brothers have moved to Langille, where they are one of the few Black families. The community has a large company called Fluxcor, Royden University, and a new sports complex where Carlos Robeson, a retired baseball player, is coaching, so Bones' mother wants him to be open minded. Due to problems with his father (who is no longer in the picture) in the past, Bones has some anger management issues that are constantly getting him in trouble. He's a great pitcher, and he starts to make friends on his baseball team. Marcus, the coach's son, seems too cool for Bones, but is really nice. Kyle is a bit difficult to deal with, since he himself suspects he might be on the autism spectrum, even though his parents don't want him tested and labeled. When odd things start to happen to the adults in town, including Bones' mother and the local librarian, the boys wonder what is going on. Fluxcor has recently unveiled new technology, a free WiFi that they are gifting to the town, and this conincides with the rise in incidents of Alien Zombie Librarian-ification. Will they be able to figure out what's causing this, and deal with their personal issues, before things get really bad?
Strengths: While there has been an increase in the number of books centering inner city children of color, there aren't as many set in the suburbs. Seeing Bones struggling with being Black in a predominately white community adds another layer of interest, and it was good that people (other than his babysitter and her son) seemed to be welcoming. The inclusion of baseball details will make this appealing to more readers. I especially liked that Marcus was a great kid who was kind to Bones and Kyle and included them in his plans. This has sort of a Twilight Zone vibe to it, and was a solid science fiction tale with enough elements to root it to the real world so that readers who don't read a lot of sci fi can easily pick it up. 
Weaknesses: I was surprised that Bones wasn't in some kind of therapy to deal with his trauma. He had gotten in trouble several times at school, so that seemed like a logical next step. As the mystery ramped up, his anger became less of an issue. I was glad that when Kyle approached his parents directly to be evaluated so that he could understand his reactions to things better, they did agree to help him even though they were afraid of having him labeled. 
What I really think: This was very similar to Hautman's The Flinkwater FactorLang and Bartkowski's Whispering Pines Lawrence, or Lawrence's The Stitchers . The cover isn't great, so this might take a little hand selling, but will be an enjoyable book for the right reader. 

Two more fantasies to consider; I enjoyed both of these but often struggle to write reviews of fantasy titles. Drat. I saw a student with a paper copy of Riordan's new Daughter of the Deep and forgot to find out what the name of the ship was. The audio book made it sound like it was "the Butternut". See? Easily distracted. 

Mandanna, Sangu. Kiki Kallira Conquers a Curse (Kiki Kallira #2)
May 17th 2022 by Viking Books for Young Readers 
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

This was a good sequel to the first book, and the ending leaves room for a possible sequel, but also finishes things up nicely. 

From the publisher:
Fresh from the exciting discovery that the beautiful kingdom and band of rebel kids she drew in her sketchbook exists in another world, Kiki Kallira has an unexpected visitor. One of those rebel kids has come into the real world to ask for her help—-the river Kaveri that is Mysore’s only source of water has suddenly vanished! With no water to drink or grow food, Kiki’s kingdom is doomed. 

Kiki returns to Mysore and quickly learns that drawing a new river doesn’t work. In her search for answers, she stumbles upon the origin of the Kaveri: it’s actually a princess from long ago who was transformed into water by a terrible curse! It’s up to Kiki and her friends to restore the river without sacrificing the princess again—-easier said than done! And with her mounting anxiety, enemies seeking to stop her, and a city growing weaker by the minute, Kiki’s confidence falters. Will she be able to unravel the curse and save her kingdom before it’s too late?

Emerson, Kevin. Drifters
May 10th 2022 by Walden Pond Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

I always enjoy Emerson's writing, and this stand alone is great for fans of Condie's The Darkdeep. 

From the publisher:
Jovie is adrift. She’d been feeling alone ever since her best friend, Micah, left her behind for a new group of friends—but when Micah went missing last fall, Jovie felt truly lost. Now, months later, the search parties have been called off, and the news alerts have dried up. There’s only Jovie, biking around Far Haven, Washington, putting up posters with Micah’s face on them, feeling like she’s the only one who remembers her friend at all.

This feeling may be far closer to the truth than Jovie thinks. As strange storms beset Far Haven, she is shocked to discover that Micah isn’t just missing—she’s been forgotten completely by everyone in town. And Micah isn’t the only one: there are others, roaming the beaches, camped in the old bunkers, who have somehow been lost from the world. When Jovie and her new friend Sylvan dig deeper, they learn that these mysteries are nothing new: the town’s history is far stranger and more deadly than anyone knows. Something disastrous is heading for Far Haven, and Jovie and Sylvan soon realize that it is up to them to save not only Micah, but everyone else who has been lost to the world and set adrift—now, in the past, and in the future.

Acclaimed author Kevin Emerson returns with a stand-alone spec-fic mystery, perfect for fans of Stranger Things.

Ms. Yingling

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