An unnerving but uneven thriller.

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LITTLE CREEPING THINGS

Cass is obsessed with figuring out who murdered her worst bully—because they followed her very own plan.

Cass is known for having survived a fire as a child. Her brother pulled her out—but her friend Sara wasn’t so lucky. Now, she’s tormented by Melody, Sara’s cousin. Cass is called “Fire Girl” and treated as a loose cannon; only her best friend, Gideon, views her without stigma. One night at a party, Cass gets drunk and details how she’d kill Melody, outlining the perfect murder plot. When Melody and the notebook containing Cass’ plans are missing, Cass becomes paranoid and frantic. She receives threatening texts but daren’t tell the police in case they find out about her notebook. Her need to find the murderer distances her from Gideon as she hides information from him, too afraid he’ll start seeing her like everyone else does. She careens into her own reckless investigation, no longer able to draw a clear line between the girl she once knew herself to be and the vengeful Fire Girl she’s perhaps been all along. Cass’ feverish journey becomes repetitive as she hammers on the same suspects with little success. Rather than being led along a tightly drawn line of suspense, it feels like running full force into walls. However, the reveal on the other side is both well earned and eerie. All major characters are white.

An unnerving but uneven thriller. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72821-052-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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