Thrills without depth, purpose, or satisfaction.




A teen solves a mystery using information from paranormal seizures.

After Cassie’s father drowned in a boating accident, she had seizures, but she hasn’t had one in years—until her school bus crashes. Then they return, but they’re not really seizures: she appears to be unconscious, but her mind jumps into somebody else’s mind. She can’t control those she jumps into and doesn’t know their thoughts, but she sees and hears what they do from inside their heads. Separately, on an astral plane, she sees symbolic clues to two mysteries she’s trying to link and solve: who committed a recent hit-and-run in her Connecticut town and whether her former BFF, Amanda—in a coma from the bus wreck—has any connection to it. Terrifying scenes include being inside a skydiver’s mind as his parachute fails; being inside a rock star’s mind as she shoots heroin; and being inside a possible murderer’s mind while he’s trying to murder Cassie herself. Her narrative voice is breathless and saucy (“a skirt so short you can almost see Texas”); her casual appropriation, as a white American character, of “switshetshela,” the Xitsongan word for epilepsy (because “it sounds exotic. Okay, maybe not exotic. Just not so gross”), goes entirely unexamined. Moreover, the disability-as-magic trope is tired. Emotional healing supposedly happens, but it rings shallow.

Thrills without depth, purpose, or satisfaction. (Supernatural mystery. 14-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-929345-26-7

Page Count: 262

Publisher: Poisoned Pencil

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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From the Amateurs series , Vol. 2

The teenage detectives from The Amateurs (2016) return, sent on a chase by their adversary.

It’s three months after Seneca, Aerin, Maddox, and Madison discovered who killed Seneca’s mother and Aerin’s sister, but the escape of the killer—their former friend, Brett—is haunting them. Then Chelsea Dawson, an Instagram-obsessed white girl, disappears. The next day, the disappearance is inexplicably posted on Case Not Closed, a cold-case message board, with a post from Brett that draws the Amateurs’ suspicions. While biracial Seneca takes the lead in the investigation, torn between catching Brett and dealing with her confusing feelings for white boy Maddox, white girl Aerin is weepy and distracted by thoughts of her sister. Korean-American Madison barely registers in solving the case or with readers, and Maddox seems mostly concerned about how white boy Jeff, Chelsea’s ex and a suspect in her disappearance, is apparently putting the moves on Seneca. Throughout the novel, Brett is spinning his web to teach Chelsea a lesson and make the Amateurs realize they’re outclassed. While there’s enough back story to explain their first case, the immature and two-dimensional foursome are amateurs in both name and ability. Unlike the first, this so-called mystery is utterly lacking in suspense or tension, overflows with leaps of logic, and offers nothing to indicate the teen detectives are any match for Brett—a fatal flaw.

Skip. (Mystery. 14-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-4228-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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It’s hard to get invested in a love story when one of the partners is an unknowable black hole


Two teens are set on a collision course with sexy results.

Nicolette Holland is on the run. She’s changed her name and her hair and fully intends to disappear as fast as possible. Jack Manx, son of a mob big shot, is blackmailed into finding Nicolette and making sure no one else does. The circumstances revolving around Nicolette’s importance are a bit blurry: Jack is told she murdered a girl connected to a powerful crime boss, but Nicolette doesn’t act like a murderer, and the police aren’t on her tail. The story unfolds with alternating chapters switching between Jack’s and Nicolette’s present-tense accounts, but the different perspectives offer little to the narrative. There are no tense cat-and-mouse sequences here; Jack just finds his mark with little trouble. When the pair cross paths there’s a sexual attraction that promises to give emotional texture to the mob drama, but each character is so guarded that little genuine heat arises. Jack and Nicolette are manic in their moods, going from loving to hating and back to loving each other, sometimes within the span of one or two pages. Neither character is particularly engaging: Jack is a stereotypical bad boy with a heart of gold, and the mysterious nature of Nicolette’s past crime keeps her at arm’s length.

It’s hard to get invested in a love story when one of the partners is an unknowable black hole . (Thriller. 14-16)

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4393-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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