Taking the fall for his little sister leads to big trouble for 17-year-old Aaron Foster.
Aaron is the quiet kid, the one who blends into the wallpaper and who stays out of trouble. But when his sister is caught with a small bag of (his) marijuana, Aaron is coerced into signing up for the police informant program and tasked with unmasking a high school dealer. Forcing himself into the right social sphere isn't easy, and Aaron's interrogation skills leave something to be desired. Labeled a snitch in the swampy ecosystem of his Florida high school, Aaron finds that untangling interpersonal connections is complicated at best, and it becomes nearly impossible when he develops feelings for one of his prime suspects. Though she sticks with the Florida setting that served her so well in her first novel, Total Constant Order (2007), Chappell suffers from the sophomore slump, with a thin premise, emotionally dull characters and a slow pace. That the police would recruit a withdrawn and disconnected student to become a social informer stretches credulity. Brief references to Aaron's drug use and panic attacks constitute his characterization, and secondary characterization is equally scanty. Tension never develops, even as Aaron wades into the murky territory of drug sales and dealers.
Falls flat. (Fiction. 14 & up)