WHERE I BELONG

A contemporary international thriller is woven together from alternating first-person perspectives. Freya, daughter of a British fashion designer who wants to create a line based on Somali beauty and exotic mystery, Khadija, a recent Somali teenage immigrant to London, and Abdi, of Somali heritage but born in the Netherlands and now living in England, share the story. The action moves from Somalia to the Muslim neighborhoods of London and then from English fashion studios and model agencies back to Somalia for an over-the-top fashion show. There, Khadija finds her younger brother, who is being held for ransom by people who have found out her secret: She just may become the next international supermodel. (Think Iman.) The betrayals that take place here seem to belong in another, more serious book. Here they are passed by too quickly. Although the device of the multiple narrators is largely successful, the third-person pieces about Mahmoud, the kidnapped boy, are printed in bold type in Freya’s chapters and do not make structural sense. The plot is driven by e-mail messages and texts, and most of the characters are made of equally flimsy fabric. There is something appealing about the adolescent characters (most of the adults are creeps), but this mishmash of a plot may have little meaning for most readers, especially if their knowledge of Somalia is limited. (Thriller. 11-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2332-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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TRASH

In an unnamed country (a thinly veiled Philippines), three teenage boys pick trash for a meager living. A bag of cash in the trash might be—well, not their ticket out of poverty but at least a minor windfall. With 1,100 pesos, maybe they can eat chicken occasionally, instead of just rice. Gardo and Raphael are determined not to give any of it to the police who've been sniffing around, so they enlist their friend Rat. In alternating and tightly paced points of view, supplemented by occasional other voices, the boys relate the intrigue in which they're quickly enmeshed. A murdered houseboy, an orphaned girl, a treasure map, a secret code, corrupt politicians and 10,000,000 missing dollars: It all adds up to a cracker of a thriller. Sadly, the setting relies on Third World poverty tourism for its flavor, as if this otherwise enjoyable caper were being told by Olivia, the story's British charity worker who muses with vacuous sentimentality on the children that "break your heart" and "change your life." Nevertheless, a zippy and classic briefcase-full-of-money thrill ride. (Thriller. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-75214-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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Without that frame, this would have been a fine addition to the wacked-out summer-camp subgenre.

I HAVE A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS

Survival camp? How can you not have bad feelings about that?

Sixteen-year-old nerd (or geek, but not dork) Henry Lambert has no desire to go to Strongwoods Survival Camp. His father thinks it might help Henry man up and free him of some of his odd phobias. Randy, Henry’s best friend since kindergarten, is excited at the prospect of going thanks to the camp’s promotional YouTube video, so Henry relents. When they arrive at the shabby camp in the middle of nowhere and meet the possibly insane counselor (and only staff member), Max, Henry’s bad feelings multiply. Max tries to train his five campers with a combination of carrot and stick, but the boys are not athletes, let alone survivalists. When a trio of gangsters drops in on the camp Games to try to collect the debt owed by the owner, the boys suddenly have to put their skills to the test. Too bad they don’t have any—at all. Strand’s summer-camp farce is peopled with sarcastic losers who’re chatty and wry. It’s often funny, and the gags turn in unexpected directions and would do Saturday Night Live skits proud. However, the story’s flow is hampered by an unnecessary and completely unfunny frame that takes place during the premier of the movie the boys make of their experience. The repeated intrusions bring the narrative to a screeching halt.

Without that frame, this would have been a fine addition to the wacked-out summer-camp subgenre. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4022-8455-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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