Grade 6–8—A year has passed since the five boys from Hidden Talents (Tor, 1999) left Edgeview Alternative School. An evil former military operative, Major Bowdler, has kidnapped telekinetic 15-year-old Eddie "Trash" Thalmayer, and his supernaturally talented friends must rescue him. The plot—full of top-secret equipment and espionage—is a little confusing, but it moves well, thanks to Trash's snappy and heartfelt narration. Lubar's trademark, genius one-liners are few here, as the sober themes of mortality and the fuzzy area between good and evil prevail. Fortunately, the novel's swashbuckling action balances the mood. The author's writing is as fluid and teen-smart as ever, though discussion of the boys' true talent—their brotherly bond—is occasionally heavy-handed and sentimental. The characters have both depth and sparkle, and the author deftly juggles the ensemble of five funny, thoughtful, distinct boys. Bowdler is just plain, puppy-killing mean, but Lubar gives him dimension by getting into his head. Older elementary and middle school fans of the genre, even those who missed Hidden Talents, should enjoy this one.—Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
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A child's capacity for evil, favorite subject of much popular entertainment, is the theme of Livesey's ( Learning by Heart ) drably pedestrian though cleanly written tale. In order to escape a painful entanglement with an unfaithful lover in London, Celia Gilchrist, a thirty-something editor of unremarkable attributes, accepts a job in Edinburgh. Her life seems blissfully transformed when she embarks on a warm, trusting relationship with Stephen, a high school teacher separated from his wife. But this Edenic interlude proves short-lived: Stephen's wife, Helen, accepts a job in Paris, leaving their 10-year-old daughter, Jenny, to live with Stephen and Celia, who becomes convinced that Jenny is conniving at her removal. Because Stephen refuses to hear ill of his daughter, Celia is helpless to stymie Jenny's onslaught of petty tricks. Yet it's difficult to empathize with her plight, as Celia--like all of the characters here--is superficially drawn and surrounded by bland descriptive prose that makes her story even drearier. This first novel displays workmanlike construction rather than promise.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.