Two wayward teens fall under the evil thrall of a third in this disturbing tale by the Printz Honor–winning author of Punkzilla (2009).
Fourteen-year-old amoral honors student Bounce convinces two socially challenged and drug-addicted seventh-graders, Wiggins and Orange, to kidnap a 3-year-old girl and imprison her in Orange’s basement. Then the three manufacture posters of the girl they have dubbed the Frog and use them to collect “donations” for the missing child. In reality, Bounce is saving up to buy a gun, which she intends to use on a local author who offended her during a class visit. Orange is all in, but sensitive Wiggins, who imagines his soul as “a little perfect crystal egg floating in your chest,” begins to question the plan, especially when Bounce hints that the Frog’s time is running out. Though the slim novel’s premise is profoundly unsettling, Rapp’s poetic use of language makes for a brutally beautiful read. There is a drug dealer with “a face like a rubber shark” and buildings that “look perfect, like they got baked in a oven with some brownies.” The author continues to push the boundaries of fiction for teens by providing an unrelentingly real and intensely powerful voice for the disenfranchised youth who dangle on society’s edge, forgotten until they commit random acts of violence because they have been shown no other way.
Hard to read, impossible to forget. (Fiction. 14 & up)