A public-service announcement about mental illness wrapped up as a compelling mystery that will keep readers going until the...


Sometimes mean girls have a reason.

White girl Ellie Sokoloff was diagnosed with claustrophobia when she was 7, shortly after her family moved from California to New York nearly a decade before. Countless therapists over the years haven’t been able to cure her of this debilitating illness, leaving Ellie to try her own cure. She leaves the confines of congested Manhattan and returns to the open spaces of California. When she arrives at the prestigious Ventana Ranch boarding school in Big Sur, she discovers that her childhood best friend, Eliza Hart, is a student. Popular, Barbie doll–perfect white girl Eliza spreads vicious lies about Ellie; soon, the entire student body hates her. When Eliza is found dead, having fallen from a cliff, almost everyone assumes Ellie killed her. Jewish Ellie’s biracial (African-American and white) suitemate, Sam, helps her work to clear her name. As she uncovers devastating secrets about Eliza’s life, she discovers the childhood roots of her own illness and of Eliza’s hatred of her and that her seemingly perfect former friend’s inner life was far from ideal. The narrative alternates between Ellie and Eliza; the latter girl tells her story from her place after death. While the characters reinforce the stigmas of mental illness, the text dispels those problematic myths about depression, bipolar disorder, and phobias.

A public-service announcement about mental illness wrapped up as a compelling mystery that will keep readers going until the hopeful conclusion. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-08762-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet