For murder-mystery fans, there is enough suspense to keep the pages turning, but this story is not likely to convert teens...

DEAD TIME

From the Murder Notebooks series

A bumpy series opener takes readers to modern London.

After a disastrous year at boarding school, 17-year-old Rose Smith has transferred to a dodgy local high school in London. The disappearance of her mother and mother's boyfriend five years earlier has landed her with her posh grandmother, who forbids her to see the boyfriend's son, Joshua. Just as Rose and Joshua reconnect, Rose's classmates start turning up dead, and she can't resist the temptation to investigate on her own, even when it puts her in danger. Meanwhile, Joshua draws Rose closer in his own pursuit of the truth about their parents' disappearance, leading Rose to struggle with conflicting feelings that will resonate with readers of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series. Rose's thorny personality—several characters tell her that she's hard to like—is only partially mitigated by stiff, third-person glimpses into her personality. In clipped sentences, this formulaic mystery supplies the usual panoply of suspects and red herrings. The plot is awkwardly elliptical; crucial historical details are withheld from readers until nearly halfway through the tale, and repeated allusions to a devastating betrayal at boarding school are never explained. As the first installment in the Murder Notebooks series, the tale leaves most questions still unanswered.

For murder-mystery fans, there is enough suspense to keep the pages turning, but this story is not likely to convert teens to the genre. (Mystery. 12 & up)

Pub Date: May 23, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8027-2351-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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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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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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