A smart, entertaining time-travel mystery.

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THE LAST TAG

After being transported to ancient Roman times, a young man must solve a young girl’s murder.

Life in Arizona isn’t so great for EB—his Dad is overworked, his mom lives in another state and doesn’t want to see him—so he spends his time tagging around the neighborhood. However, trouble starts when he encounters the ghost of a young girl in an abandoned house, and she begs him to solve the mystery of her murder. Unfortunately for EB, Aurelia’s murder took place in A.D. 78 in a Roman city near Pompeii called Herculaneum. Once he realizes he can’t ignore her request, he’s magically transported there. EB knows a little Latin from school, but he also knows that there’s only a limited amount of time before Mount Vesuvius erupts. As he meets various members of Aurelia’s family and their well-off Roman acquaintances, his graffiti skills come in handy: Leaving a message on a street wall helps him track down the culprit. The stakes get higher on a personal level when EB catches the eye of a young Roman girl from a prominent family that’s tied to Aurelia’s death; in turn, he makes an enemy of her brother. As EB begins putting the clues together, he has the genius idea to expose the murder in a very public fashion so that Aurelia’s family might be avenged and her ghost can find closure. The climax of the novel occurs during a remarkably tense scene at the Roman theater. Though readers must suspend disbelief that EB would fit into ancient Roman society so seamlessly, the novel moves along at a solid pace and the motivations for the murder are well-plotted. EB’s voice is charmingly youthful and acerbic, while also recalling the sharp observations of old film detectives.

A smart, entertaining time-travel mystery.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1469908151

Page Count: 338

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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THE BOOK THIEF

When Death tells a story, you pay attention. Liesel Meminger is a young girl growing up outside of Munich in Nazi Germany, and Death tells her story as “an attempt—a flying jump of an attempt—to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.” When her foster father helps her learn to read and she discovers the power of words, Liesel begins stealing books from Nazi book burnings and the mayor’s wife’s library. As she becomes a better reader, she becomes a writer, writing a book about her life in such a miserable time. Liesel’s experiences move Death to say, “I am haunted by humans.” How could the human race be “so ugly and so glorious” at the same time? This big, expansive novel is a leisurely working out of fate, of seemingly chance encounters and events that ultimately touch, like dominoes as they collide. The writing is elegant, philosophical and moving. Even at its length, it’s a work to read slowly and savor. Beautiful and important. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83100-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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