Readers won’t even notice the steady pull to the edges of their seats.

READ REVIEW

THE LYING WOODS

A teen is unprepared for the truths his father’s disappearance uncovers in Elston’s (This Is Our Story, 2016, etc.) latest.

Senior Owen Foster, long-cloistered in affluence and his upscale New Orleans boarding school, can barely comprehend the shocking news from his mother: His father has been embezzling for years and now has disappeared, leaving his company, his employees’ lives, and his family in shambles. Returning home, Owen finds himself the target of the town’s rage; he gets threatening, unnerving messages accusing him and his mother of collusion. He tries to escape the endless demands to know where his father and the money are by working in an orchard with a nonjudgmental pecan farmer and by picking up the threads of an old friendship, but Owen is keeping his own secret from everyone—his dad sent him a letter right before he disappeared, suggesting they meet over Thanksgiving. Fans who have come to expect Elston’s mastery of situational tension, double narratives, and enthralling mystery will not be disappointed with this newest tale that alternates between past and present perspectives as it barrels toward a stunning reveal. Owen’s fall from a grace he never knew was funded by stolen money is visceral as he negotiates humility and defensiveness while relearning what he thought he knew about his father and himself. Characters are assumed white.

Readers won’t even notice the steady pull to the edges of their seats. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-01478-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Only for readers who are really good at suspending disbelief.

H2O

Grab an umbrella: The latest fictional civilization-ending threat is deadly rain.

Ruby’s having the best night of her life, drunkenly making out with her crush in a hot tub at a party. Suddenly, the host’s parents arrive and, panicking, drag everyone indoors. The radio broadcasts an emergency message about fatal rain. Space bacteria have entered the atmosphere on an asteroid, replicated in the clouds’ moisture and now rain death upon humanity. Just humanity, though—inexplicably, this bacteria’s apparently harmless to plants and other animals. After struggling to live through the first few days—finding uncontaminated water sources is a particular challenge—Ruby decides to travel across the country to find her father. The situation’s horrifying, but what gives the deaths resonance is how sad they are, rather than simply scary (although they are plenty gory). Ruby’s narration is unsophisticated and, especially in the beginning, self-conscious, keeping readers from immersing themselves in the story, much as the strange butterfly graphic that censors curse words does. Additionally, Ruby’s progressively vapid characterization makes her hard to root for. Her biggest redeeming trait’s her love of animals. The novel also has the usual post-apocalyptic tropes—nerdy companion, military of dubious trustworthiness, human threats, a young child to take care of and so forth. The ending is immensely unsatisfying.

Only for readers who are really good at suspending disbelief. (Post-apocalyptic adventure. 14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4926-0654-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Yet another bland, half-baked dystopian exercise.

CRAZY HOUSE

A teen girl goes looking for her missing twin sister.

In the absence of their parents, Cassie and Becca, both white, are doing their best to tend to the family farm. One morning, Cassie wakes up to discover Becca is missing. Meanwhile, Becca wakens in a horrific children’s prison, in which the detained are forced to fight to the death. As Cassie searches for her sister, Becca does her best to survive the torture her captors put her through. The novel is set in a future in which populations are organized geographically into isolated cells. The government controls all the information going in and out. More lurks beneath the surface, and the book sets up further installments, but few readers will feel the need to keep reading. The world is poorly built, the characters are dreadfully thin, and the plotting is drastically uneven. When Cassie and Becca are finally reunited, readers will have little reason to celebrate: their relationship is so thinly sketched they barely feel like sisters. The torture sequences in the teen prison are gratuitous and dreary. A last-minute twist is easily predicted, making the slow, tedious burn toward the reveal and the barely distinguishable characters all the more intolerable.

Yet another bland, half-baked dystopian exercise. (Dystopian adventure. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-43131-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more