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Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan cowrote the graphic novels City of Spies and Brain Camp. Susan is also a five-time Emmy nominee for her work in children's television and a Writers Guild Award winner for best documentary. She wrote the stage adaptation of Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club, teaches writing at Goddard College, and is a blogger for the Huffington Post. When she was growing up, her family moved a lot, and the combination of being a) shy, b) the constant new kid, and c) the only Asian meant she was often picked on. In Guardians, she explores her thoughts and feelings about not just bullies but how others deal with them ... and learn to stand up for themselves. Laurence has also written the novels The Cutting Room, The Shooting Script, and the Edgar Award-winning Mrs. White and a short-story collection, The Family Unit and Other Fantasies. He received two Drama Desk nominations for the book and lyrics to Bed and Sofa, a musical produced by New York's Vineyard Theatre. Laurence was the baby in his family, the youngest of four brothers; even his twin brother was two minutes older. He learned that having little expected of you can be a source of power. So does Esther in Guardians: she has to finally accept being a leader of people before it's too late. She is sixteen, after all.
Kim and Klavan's world building enticingly trickles through the brutal, fast-paced, multilayered plot, which is fueled by a sweet romance...and plenty of mysteries. Wasteland raises plenty of captivating questions and doesn't shortchange readers on satisfying answers. -- Booklist
Gr 10 Up-In the bleak, desolate town of Prin, you get partnered at 14, are considered an elder at 17, and die at 19. Resources are scarce, and disease, especially from rainwater, is rampant. Esther, 15, doesn't fit in, and doesn't care; she hasn't partnered and consistently avoids doing the menial jobs that everyone is assigned, such as digging or searching for gasoline in abandoned cars. Her older sister, Sarah, provides for them by earning the meager food rations that her childhood friend (and now powerful leader) Levi gives people for completing their jobs. Meanwhile, the variants, tattoo and scar-covered, hermaphroditic misfits who live outside of town, are staging increasingly violent assaults against the townspeople. When newcomer Caleb, 16, appears and is able to thwart one of the attacks, the inhabitants of Prin believe he may be the key to stopping the violence. But Caleb himself is not sure, and has his own agenda. There is no subtlety here; the authors make clues about what is to come next all too obvious, and the omniscient point of view leaves nothing to the imagination. Repeated violence, death, and a single (if clinical) sex scene limit this selection to older teens, while the lack of foreshadowing and suspense will not satisfy those same readers. The ending leaves some questions, which may be explored in the next two books of the trilogy.-Kelly Jo Lasher, Middle Township High School, Cape May Court House, NJ (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.