Fast and intense, this is a galloping thriller with something extra for romantics.


The opening scenes set the pace for this stomach-clencher of a chase.

Katelyn’s mother, Melissa, doesn’t want anyone to know her business, and they move often. Why is not clear. Katelyn, ignorant of her mother’s motives, creates an online dating profile for Melissa, blowing their cover. Melissa’s words as she hectically starts packing bags are ominous: “They found us.” Katelyn knows things are serious when Melissa steals their elderly neighbor’s vehicle to use as a getaway car. Narrated in the first person by Katelyn, the story keeps readers as much in the dark as she is. To keep her safe, Melissa leaves Katelyn in a motel room while she goes off to deal with things, leaving Katelyn to untangle a somewhat overblown tale of thwarted love and a cold-case murder. Her first clue appears along with a brutal bounty hunter who busts into her room. Katelyn escapes and, in the process, rescues computer whiz Malcolm, whom the bounty hunter has kidnapped for his tech skills. Malcolm, who is Black in a default White cast, is able to tell Katelyn why Melissa is being sought. Together, the duo enters a cat-and-mouse game, trying to locate Melissa while staying one step ahead of the bounty hunter. The chapters are short, featuring terse chapter titles—“Flee,” “Evade,” “Hostage”—and each ends with a cliffhanger, making this page-turner appealing and accessible for reluctant readers.

Fast and intense, this is a galloping thriller with something extra for romantics. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-17981-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Underlined

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.


Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.


Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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