A YA novel features two teenagers on the run after they’re assaulted by a masked man.
In Credence, Alabama, 17-year-old Angel Lockhart and her boyfriend, 18-year-old Skip Greene, have just left their high school dance. As they walk to Skip’s truck, a masked man holds up a “laser-looking gun,” threatens them, and removes his mask. Then another masked man—Pade Sanders, one of Skip’s best friends—intervenes. He tells them they’re in danger after seeing the face of the first masked man, and instructs them to leave, giving them a case with $100,000. They drive to Angel’s home so she can pack clothes, and after sneaking through her window, she overhears her parents talking to someone named agent Payne. Angel eventually speaks with her father, Jon, and he tells her to get to Detroit. Once at the address, she must say she’s “with the church.” He plans to meet the teens there in 72 hours. Shocked and upset, they agree to hit the road. But after they change cars, Angel sees glowing violet eyes in the nearby woods. In her head, she hears, “You’ll never escape who you are.” Beginning a new series spun off from her Leftover Girl books, Bolick (Fate of War, 2017, etc.) blends paranormal and sci-fi elements within a quick-moving thriller framework. Early on, there’s a mention of Pade’s sister, Bailey, whose disappearance might have involved aliens. Later at a hotel, the plot takes shape when a detective is murdered on a stakeout, his body drained of blood. The author keeps pulses pounding with Skip’s willingness to ditch the cops who have asked the teens to make a statement. While alone on the road, the couple abstain from premarital sex, spend lots of cash, and switch vehicles often. Readers may grow frustrated as important narrative details drop like gifts into the protagonists’ laps; the author tends to tell rather than show audiences. But by the end, everything is connected, with an agency called Earth Under Fire at the center. Angel and Skip are bonded through a twist that should give fresh dimension to the sequel.
A propulsive thriller with teen protagonists in peril.