The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, by Stacy McAnulty
Random House Children’s Books, 2018
Bluebonnet nomination for 2019 – 2020
Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning, and this gave her genius-level math skills. Aged 12, she is technically ready for college, but she has to spend a year in middle school before that. It may sound improbable, but actually this is a very compelling and believable read. Middle school is tough to figure out, especially if you are hiding a massive secret, and your life is complicated with OCD. If you love dogs, right there is another great reason to pick up the book. The book just got better and better, and the end will blow you away.
Drest, a young Scottish girl witnesses her family’s capture and learns about their imminent death. With only a few days to spare, she must make her way to rescue them from a castle prison. She starts off on a quest to find them, taking a wounded prince along as a hostage. This story has all the elements of a great tale. You may be very surprised at how it ends in a series of sometimes alarming twists.
I am going to recommend this series, with a Big Caveat. It starts out as a Middle Grade series with a female lead character and lots of magic in a story reminiscent of Harry Potter meets Percy Jackson. It ends as more of a Teen Fiction series complete with love triangle and DRAMA. So without spoiling anything, travel with Sophie a changeling who thinks she knows about her past but in fact she is a lost child from an Elvin world where cuts are treated with potions, and the Elves are lead by a group of Councilors from the nobility, and all manner of magical creatures live in harmony with each other.
Sophie meets an intriguing cast of characters from Dax, son of a potions master. Keefe a more likable son of a Malfoy like noble. Fitz son of yet another noble and fellow Telepath. And many other characters who are fun and assist Sophie on her journey to discover the purpose of her existence. There is pin trading, magic dodgeball, smelly foods, and troll poetry. Mystery, secret messages, magic mirrors, and lots of hospital visits.
I really liked book one, there is nothing objectionable or too problematic for middle grade readers. Its in the subsequent slide into love triangle and Sophie’s lack of growth into a strong capable heroine that gives me pause. Its a fun series, but Sophie is a bit of a Mary Sue when it comes to powers (Oh no one has ever ‘insert magic ability/talent/skill’ here) but she never grows beyond the wilting, panic filled young girl we see in the first novel.
The Zom-B Chronicles are a collection of 12 books which tell the story of the life and adventures of B Smith. B is a high school student who is utterly bored and frustrated by life, until a virus breaks out in the high school and all of the students are locked in!
And who are the puss-covered guys hanging around the school, or the guy with owl-like eyes and a poochie stomach? Or Mr. Dowling, the maniacal clown, whose appearance is quite dreadful and who drips spiders from his mouth. I am sorry to say that you have to read pass the first book to find out. This collection of stories takes place in and around (and sometimes under) London. Chapters are short and the story moves quickly, with wickedly drawn pictures to help you feel scared or disgusted along the way. There are loads of bad guys and crazies, but who exactly is bad. It’s kind of hard to tell. And how will this end? Not the way you think.
These books are a great read for anyone who likes zombie books, and the author has a lot to tell us about human nature.