Best-selling mystery writer George continues her series for teens set on Whidbey Island in Washington state with this mystery about an unusual seal connected to the Celtic selkie myth.
The first volume in the series, The Edge of Nowhere (2012), focused on Becca, a girl with the power to understand some of the thoughts of others around her. This story also includes Becca and her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Derric, but the main character this time is Jenn, a bitter 15-year-old from an impoverished, dysfunctional family. Jenn is just beginning to question her sexual orientation, but many are already convinced she is a lesbian, and she is the target of relentless homophobic bullying (that evidently goes without consequence). Jenn befriends a marine biologist named Annie who rents a trailer near Jenn’s home and employs Jenn as an assistant. Annie is bisexual, and she tries repeatedly and inappropriately but unsuccessfully to interest Jenn in exploring sex with her. Troublingly, the text does not seem to question the stereotypes it exploits, from the predatory gay adult to Jenn’s slight frame and short haircut; Jenn’s sexual questioning is not resolved. The actual mystery revolves around Jenn’s and Becca’s involvement with Annie and other adults in a long, complicated search for an unusual coal-black seal that returns to the island every year.
Too long, too many characters, too many subplots and far too many trendy ingredients stirred in just for effect. (Paranormal mystery. 12 & up)