Four friends cement their bond with a secret society that gets beyond out of hand.
Opening with the arrival of the police and the statement that “First we were four. Now we are three,” the story then jumps back to relate how the four became friends, leaving the mystery of what happens to one of them (and to which one) to tantalize and pull readers through the story. The complicated bond among the four is born when they discover a dead body—it’s a teenage girl, a written-off runaway, a murder never really investigated. Years later, now seniors in high school and wanting permanence for their friendship, the four invent a secret society, IV, to rebel against authority with meaningful pranks. Turned toward justice when they take down a pervy educator, they step things up by prodding at the long-buried murder. The destruction and cultlike mythos continue to escalate (brutally, for some animals), as popular kids—some their tormentors—want in on the action. The intoxicating power morphs justice to vengeance as the secrets unravel. Of the four, two are white and two are people of color; class tensions play the primary role in the conflicts, from the dead girl to school bullying. Sirowy’s emphasis is on moral complexity, nailing the way good intentions can have catastrophic unintended consequences
A disturbing, morally gray, intense page-turner. (Thriller. 16-adult)