Eight teens’ fates intertwine and recombine in the aftermath of a prank gone very wrong.
The constellation of characters is best imagined as a nucleus of two—the beautiful, domineering and troubled athletic couple Brendan and Emma—surrounded by an outer ring of friends, then two farther-off characters. The outer ring comprises sad stoner Felix and camera-toting Maxie, back in Illinois after four years in Colorado, along with golden girl Chloe and her earnest boyfriend, Anil. It is then connected more loosely to Emma’s thoughtful younger sister, Faith, and Walter, whose isolation and tenuous grasp on reality plays a pivotal role. After an unsatisfying, awkward stop at an alcohol-soaked end-of-summer bash, Chloe suggests a visit to the local “ghost house,” a seemingly abandoned property on the edge of the local cemetery. Chloe and Emma creep up on the porch, knocking over rose bushes as they go. The girls’ act of trespassing combines with Brendan’s drunkenness and bravado to set off a chain reaction that leads to multiple shootings and other serious injuries, which in turn lead to varying degrees of recovery and, ultimately, reflection. A novel in verse with a large cast of rather two-dimensional characters facing the consequences of their actions is nothing new, but Pattou keeps the pacing brisk enough to make this a decent page-turner.
Engaging, if not essential. (Verse/fiction. 13-15)