Of all the people in Blackbury, UK, who could have suddenly developed the ability to see ghosts, it would just have to be Johnny Maxwell. He isn’t strong, clever, good-looking, or full of personality. Yet the weird stuff always happens to him. And what makes him weird is that he’s always open to it.
Only You Can Save Mankind is the title of the latest computer game pirated by Johnny’s fat hacker pal Wobbler. It’s only a step or so beyond Space Invaders (remember? anybody?), in which the player has to blow up alien spaceships from one-seater fighters to the huge mothership. Johnny is doing quite well at it until, just before he fires the kill-shot at the alien mothership, a message comes on his screen: WE WANT TO TALK.
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In this sequel to Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go and Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck, twice-dead teen Milton Foster heroically dons a fat suit (sort of) and infiltrates the part of the 18-and-under afterlife set aside for fat kids.
Marlo has matriculated to the Second Circle of Heck, where kids study such subjects as necroeconomics while being tormented by desire for material possessions. Egged on by Rapacia’s Vice Principal of Darkness – a giant tin Easter bunny named the Grabbit, whose hollow voice speaks in diabolically cute limericks – Marlo begins to plan the heist of all eternity.
Milton Fauster is a good little boy, but his sister Marlo is bad seed. Because of her, he spends his last moments on Earth as an unwitting accomplice to petty theft. Before Milton has time to make peace with his maker, he and Marlo find themselves eternally darned. Darned to Heck.
From a grand design that challenges you to reconsider the order of cause and effect, to sentences like “If Time is a piece of cheese, the two seconds that followed were fondue,” this book makes you think, then laugh, then grip your armrests with concern and excitement, over and over until its cleverly satisfying ending.
It all started innocently: an email sent to the wrong address, an “I” before an “E” where it shouldn’t have been. What followed was a friendship, then romance of sorts. This is the follow-up book to “Love Virtually”, in which Emmi Rothner mistakenly emails Leo Leike and things take off from there.
Somewhere over the doughnut, there’s a place where knights slay dragons, and woodcutters slay granny-eating wolves, and all the other stock fairy-tale characters live stock fairy-tale lives. But one day, a forest maiden named Buttercup awakens to the absurdity of it all.
This might turn out to be a historically important book, lending insights to the development of manned Mars exploration. But for now it’s notable enough for what it is: a smart, exciting piece of entertainment that touches the heart and transports the mind to a strange but real world.