Paulsen's latest comes close to a classic teenage male fantasy of fleeing from home to seek independence and self. Both Terry's parents leave the same day; each phones asking him to tell the other. Since their quarrels have always obliterated any urge to parent it's no loss, especially since Terry has $1,000 and a kit to build a car. After handily putting it together and teaching himself to drive, the 14-year-old heads west. He picks up Waylon, an aging, footloose vet whose psychic wounds date to carrying out termination orders against civilians in 'Nam (as depicted in vignettes entitled "Memories," early on); Waylon takes Terry to Wayne, a war buddy who tries to temper Waylon's sporadic rages against injustice. Hoping to kindle the boy's curiosity, the two take him on a journey that includes meeting an ancient man who tells tales from US history and a madam who explains that another friend (also a prostitute) has died of AIDS; a poker game; a fundamentalist commune where women are rigidly oppressed; and the site of Custer's defeat. Scenes and camaraderie are vivid, the narrative pungent. Kids will be enthralled by Terry's freedom and his friends' aura of mystery and loyalty; they may also sympathize with Waylon's violent, though righteous, anger without understanding its terrible consequences. In an inconclusive ending, Terry heads back into a conflict with some local toughs that may well end like Custer's. What can he look forward to if he survives? Paulsen doesn't offer much. There's a strong conscience propelling this novel, but it's buried so deep that YA's caught up in the action may miss it. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-15-292878-2

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1994

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After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 1

A century before the events of Clare’s Mortal Instruments trilogy, another everyday heroine gets entangled with demon-slaying Shadowhunters. Sixteen-year-old orphaned Tessa comes to London to join her brother but is imprisoned by the grotesque Dark Sisters. The sisters train the unwilling Tessa in previously unknown shapeshifter abilities, preparing her to be a pawn in some diabolical plan. A timely rescue brings Tessa to the Institute, where a group of misfit Shadowhunters struggles to fight evil. Though details differ, the general flavor of Tessa’s new family will be enjoyably familiar to the earlier trilogy’s fans; the most important is Tessa’s rescuer Will, the gorgeous, sharp-tongued teenager with a mysterious past and a smile like “Lucifer might have smiled, moments before he fell from Heaven.” The lush, melodramatic urban fantasy setting of the Shadowhunter world morphs seamlessly into a steampunk Victorian past, and this new series provides the setup for what will surely be a climactic battle against hordes of demonically powered brass clockworks. The tale drags in places, but this crowdpleaser’s tension-filled conclusion ratchets toward a new set of mysteries. (Steampunk. 13-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7586-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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