cover image January


Daniel Parker, Weiss. Simon Pulse, $3.99 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81819-6

The Countdown series, which will chronicle each month of 1999, opens with a flimsy, rather crass tale. As the new year dawns, a reported ""massive solar flare"" causes power failures all over the globe and adults and children everywhere to melt into piles of ""black goo."" Only young adults are spared, among them a quartet of drunken high school kids in suburban Seattle, two teens whose fake IDs have gained them entry to a New York City nightclub, a cocky resident in a Texas hospital, a pair of tough-talking inmates in a Pittsburgh jail, and Sarah and Joshua Levy--two American siblings visiting Jerusalem. The disjointed plot jumps among these stereotyped characters, most of whom hold little chance of grabbing readers' interest, with the possible exception of Sarah and Joshua, who desperately search the ancient scroll of their granduncle Elijah for clues to the apocalyptic event. Despite the lure of a sweepstakes (announced at book's end) with a $2000 prize to be awarded at the start of the year 2000, readers may not linger long enough to discover what horrors lie ahead in this countdown to the millenium; February is also due to release this month. Ages 12-up. (Dec.)