AFTER THE FIRST DEATH

A tough, double-barreled thriller which immerses readers, alternately, in the unexplained torment of young Ben Marchand and his father, who await each other in a prep school dorm, and in the tension aboard a hijacked school bus diverted to a rickety unused bridge. The driver is a young girl with a nervous bladder, her guard a teenage terrorist (his mentor nearby in a van) who is looking forward to his initiation: his first kill. Early on, one of the tranquilized child passengers dies of a drug overdose, and after the first death there are many others: three of the four terrorists are eventually shot; the wariest, most promising of the children is killed in retaliation for the first of the three; a soldier gets his while participating in a rescue attack; and then, crouching with him in the woods when it's almost over, the girl makes a false play for the young gunman's emotions and he shoots her. (We leave him, stepping off the last page, preparing to kill again for a getaway car.) Ben's death comes later, at his own hands, after we learn that he had been sent as envoy to the terrorists and set up by his father, a general in charge of negotiations, to "betray" his country with false information. Cormier does not so much refuse to mourn as refuse to compromise—which his merciless choice of victims and his tight-lipped projection of the Army side makes smashingly clear.

Pub Date: April 1, 1979

ISBN: 0440208351

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1979

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

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist.

SHE'S GONE

Seventeen-year-old Hunter Gifford has no memories of the car accident he was in the night of the homecoming dance with Chloe Summers, his now-missing girlfriend.

In the small southern Kentucky city of Bentley, comments on social media condemn Hunter as responsible for Chloe’s disappearance. When he attends the community vigil for her, Chloe’s mother publicly accuses Hunter of obstructing the investigation. Hunter’s own mom died when he was 15 and his sister, Olivia, was 12. Their dad has awkwardly attempted to pull his weight as a solo parent, and Hunter has stepped in and nurtured Livvy. Small but mighty Livvy is an ardent defender of her brother and is fiercely in love with her girlfriend, Gabriela. To make things worse, childhood friend Daniel informs Hunter that he’s making a true-crime documentary about Chloe. Hunter is upset, especially since it makes him look like a prime suspect, and a subsequent dramatic event draws more attention to the video. Hunter and Chloe met in creative writing club, and he knew she kept a journal—but it’s missing. Enter the sleuthing team of Hunter, Livvy, and Gabriela, who hatch a plan to find it. The dynamics between Hunter and Livvy and Livvy and Gabriela are endearing and will charm readers, who will root for them to solve the well-executed mystery. Main characters default to White; Gabriela is Mexican American.

This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72825-420-3

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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