Jessica Delaney returns in this second entry in author/engineer Bolick’s (The Leftover Girl, 2016) Alabama-set YA paranormal series.
With her cousins Bailey and Pade Sanders exiled to their father’s house in Colorado and her suspected biological brother Chase further away, Jessica accepts Rachelle Whitman’s invitation to go to the lake for the day. She loses track of time and neglects to bring the powerful sunscreen that her parents always make her apply. But Jessica’s resulting sunburn doesn’t just make her skin red—it puts her in a two-month coma. Finally released right before the first day of school, Jessica just wants her life to go back to normal, but everything seems to have changed: former bully Tosh Henley is now nice, and new student Brianna is hassling Rachelle; meanwhile, just-returned Pade has quit football, making him the school pariah. Also, Joe, the new guy in Jessica’s history class, somehow reminds her of Chase, although he looks and acts nothing like him. When Joe suddenly disappears, everyone claims that he never existed—and that they thought that Jessica was talking to herself in history class. As her dreams and flashbacks increase, she learns staggering truths about Pade and Bailey. Meanwhile, as the adopted Jessica tries to discover whether her true name is Jessica Naples or Kayden Ray, her father’s health once again becomes precarious. This second series installment replaces exaggerated angst with suspense, making it far superior to the first. This time around, Bolick strikes the perfect balance of action, description, dialogue, and introspection. Readers’ eagerness to learn what happens next overcomes the book’s minor shortcomings, such as the many character introductions when Jessica goes back to school. A few subplots seem irrelevant here, particularly Jessica’s friend Angel’s romance, but they could possibly become integral to the next book. This novel ties up many loose ends from the last one, but it doesn’t function well as a stand-alone novel, so new readers should be sure to read the first in the series.
A suspenseful tale that stands out in a crowded genre.