X definitely does not mark the spot

A community-service trip to Mexico lands four teens in the middle of an expedition that could lead either to the discovery of priceless treasure or toward certain death.

A scholarship student, self-professed history nerd and diving fanatic, Annie Fleet finds herself out of her depth with the other students from her elite private school. But when her history teacher, Mr. Alvarez, chaperones a trip to help hurricane victims, Annie signs up. In addition to her volunteer work, Annie hopes to find time for treasure hunting, diving and maybe even romance. Unfortunately her crush, Josh Rebstock, does not seem to share in her plans. Only days into the trip Alvarez reveals that the community service is just a cover. They are there to try and recover Cortés’ priceless  Golden Jaguar, an enormous, solid-gold statue stolen from the Aztecs and then lost—or possibly die trying. Detailed information about scuba diving and history showcase the author’s research, but the convoluted plot is devoid of energy. Annie’s infatuation with the narcissistic Josh focuses more on his dimples and his biceps than any true connection. Lacking both heart-pounding adventure and heart-racing romance, this trip to Mexico is a complete mess.

X definitely does not mark the spot . (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: July 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-4035-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2013


A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024


There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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