A contemporary reboot that does the original proud.

TIGHTER

Drug addiction and tainted love mess with the mind of a befuddled au pair in this creepy update of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw.

Seventeen-year-old Jamie is secretly treating a broken heart with her parents’ prescriptions when she leaves for a dream babysitting job in a swanky summer community off of Providence, R.I. After a teacher spurns her schoolgirl crush, Jamie sinks into a funk that she hopes will be lifted by focusing on sweet 11-year-old Isa. But once in place, Jamie is tormented by gossip of last summer’s nanny, a reckless girl named Jessie, and her boyfriend, Peter, who died in a plane crash. Through her pill-induced haze, Jamie begins seeing the pair everywhere and hears Peter’s vengeful voice coming out of Isa’s brother Milo’s mouth. Then a confrontation with some of the local rich kids sends Jamie spinning off to the same cliff where she first saw the dead lovers take flight. Who or what is driving her to follow their fatal path? Griffin interweaves subtle commentary about social class, drug abuse and mental illness into this marvelous homage while winding the suspense knob all the way to 11. Whether or not the ghosts are real, Jamie’s alienation and addiction are, and readers will feel her growing claustrophobia at each turn of the page.

A contemporary reboot that does the original proud. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: May 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-86645-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work.

14 WAYS TO DIE

A teen sleuth tries livestreaming to catch a murderer.

Seventeen-year-old Jessica Simmons lost her mother a decade ago, the first victim of the Magpie Man, a serial killer now on victim No. 13, who has struck in locations around the U.K. Her father’s life is still in shambles and her former friends are long gone, but Jessica’s decided to publicize her tragedy. One of five contestants on YouTube’s “The Eye”—an unscripted, livestreamed reality show—Jessica asks her viewers to help identify the serial killer. But inviting the world into her home and school brings unwanted attention, perhaps even from the Magpie Man, whose body count keeps climbing: Sleuthing-related drama and peril ensue. Jessica’s friends and family are economically rendered yet believable, and Ralph renders grief beautifully and devastatingly, as something that evolves but doesn’t end. As in the story, the bulk of the action occurs when the cameras aren’t rolling, and eventually, the reality show premise and its minimally developed contestants are more a distraction and transparent deus ex machina than an integral part of Jessica’s journey. More intriguing—and with real-life precedents—is the possibility of crowdsourcing a murder investigation. Although the fast-paced finale can’t quite overcome the slow start and overlong middle, the tale reaches a dramatic, satisfactory conclusion. Characters follow a White default.

An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work. (resources, author interview) (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72823-186-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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

THE LAKE

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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