cover image Lenny Cyrus, School Virus

Lenny Cyrus, School Virus

Joe Schreiber, illus. by Matt Smith. Houghton Mifflin, $15.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0

Schreiber shifts from YA to middle grade with the story of awkward eighth-grade supergenius Lenny Cyrus, who devises a way to shrink himself to microscopic size and enter the bloodstream of his crush, in hopes of “changing Zooey’s mind” about him. “It’s one hundred percent scientifically viable,” Lenny tells his best friend, Harlan (the ethics of the plan don’t cross Lenny’s mind). Schreiber alternates among Lenny, Harlan, and Zooey’s perspectives in short, taut, action-packed chapters with cliffhanger endings, techniques he used in Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick and Perry’s Killer Playlist. Zooey’s health and control of her own body fluctuate wildly as Lenny befriends a helpful astrovirus, avoids Zooey’s internal defenses, and tries to reach her brain. Some late revelations and actions help Lenny become slightly more sympathetic, but readers are more likely to side with Harlan, the good-guy counterweight to Lenny’s amoral and ill-advised pursuit of Zooey. Meanwhile, Zooey, the least stereotypical and most independent-minded character, is all but reduced to a puppet as Lenny nearly kills her in his efforts to win (and see inside) her heart. Ages 10–14. Agent: Phyllis Westberg, Harold Ober Associates. (Apr.)