The Exo Project.
By Andrew De Young.
Apr. 2017. 448p. Boyds Mills, $18.95 (9781629796109).
On a future Earth that is rapidly dying,
OmniCore has introduced the Exo Project
to launch volunteers into space to find the
next home for humans. Seventeen-year-old
Matthew volunteers, not for the glory but for
the huge fee that will help his younger sister
save their very sick mother. He and two coworkers land on distant Gle’ah, only to find
others there before them—a rather primitive
matriarchal society run by a 17-year-old girl
named Kiva, who has seen Matthew in her visions. As the two grow closer, Matthew must
decide if bringing humans to this new home
saves them or sacrifices the native Vagri. First-time author DeYoung offers straightforward
yet effective storytelling, which makes for a
refreshing change from science fiction with
convoluted and multilevel plots. The third-person omniscient narration shifts mostly
between the two main characters, Matthew
and Kiva; however, this perspective diminish-es some of the emotional intensity of the tale.
Overall, though, this is an enjoyable read with
abundant STEM connections. —Cindy Welch
Give Me a K-I-L-L.
By R. L. Stine.
Apr. 2017. 288p. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, $18.99
(9781250058966). Gr. 7–10.
In this sixth entry in the rebooted Fear
Street series, troubled Gretchen’s transfer to
Shadyside High instigates a fierce competition for the last spot on the cheerleading
squad. Gretchen was a star cheerleader at her
old school, but spoiled rival Devra is equally
determined to secure the open spot. The competition is, in a word, fierce: one student is
doused in flaming kerosene, while another’s
throat is eaten away by acid. Though Devra
eventually wins, thanks to pressure applied
by her wealthy donor dad, threatening texts
and outright sabotage convince Gretchen that
she is out for revenge. But how to prove it?
Along with the aforementioned atrocities,
this features sudden grabs and screams, some
borderline bad boyfriend behavior, ghostly
knocking, phone calls with the dead, and
other discomfiting elements. The finale comes
complete with flashing knives at a country
retreat for cheerleaders, and (predictably)
madness and villainy flying in from unexpected quarters. Another reliable chiller from the
king of formula horror. —John Peters
Grendel’s Guide to Love and War: A Tale
of Rivalry, Romance, and Existential
By A. E. Kaplan.
Apr. 2017. 320p. Knopf, $17.99 (9780399555541); lib.
ed., $20.99 (9780399555558); e-book (9780399555565).
Tom Grendel is used to being the young-
est in his retiree-friendly neighborhood of
Lake Heorot, where he lives with his dad, a
U.S. Army major who came back from Iraq
broken. Tom, whose mom died when he was
young, anticipates a quiet Virginia summer,
spent mowing his elderly neighbors’ lawns
and hanging with Ed, his wine-brewing,
Korean-not-Japanese best friend. Then the
Rothgars arrive: behemoth jock Rex and his
sister, Willow, Tom’s childhood crush. When
Rex’s loud parties start to have a debilitating
effect on Tom’s dad, Tom and Ed take mat-
ters into their own hands. Several pranks later,
it seems like they have the upper hand, until
Rex’s cousin Wolf shows up to turn the tables.
This modern adaptation contains numerous
sly references to Beowulf (keep an eye on those
draconian old ladies!) as it sympathizes with
the villain—didn’t Grendel just want quieter
neighbors? Tom himself is utterly sympathet-
ic, and buoyant supporting characters help
make this a particularly clever and sometimes
poignant tale of summertime pranks gone
wrong. —Maggie Reagan
North of Happy.
By Adi Alsaid.
Apr. 2017. 304p. Harlequin Teen, $18.99
(9780373212286). Gr. 9–12.
When Carlos’ footloose brother Felix is
killed in a senseless shooting, Carlos goes on