Tense and engaging—well worth the effort of suspending one’s disbelief.



In a suspenseful high school whodunit, AP chemistry student Nearly “Leigh” Boswell investigates a series of murders for which someone is trying to frame her.

Every week, Leigh (which she really prefers to her given name, Nearly) combs the missed-connections ads in her local paper, hoping for word from the father who disappeared years ago. On the day her chemistry teacher lectures the class about Schrödinger’s cat, Leigh spots an eerie outlier among the messages: “Newton was wrong....Find me tonight under the bleachers.” After a math tutee’s brutal attack, a scrawled warning in Leigh’s desk, and a dead cat delivered to Leigh’s doorstep, complete with Schrödinger reference, a second science-themed personal ad convinces Leigh that something nefarious is afoot. With regard to believability, the science-class conceits are as tricky to swallow as the idea that a teenager in 2014 browses print personals. But the point here isn’t realism—it’s puzzles. Cryptic missed-connections clues, a sequence of numbers left on the victims’ bodies, and of course, the identity and motive of the murderer leave plenty for readers to contemplate as Leigh rushes to crime scenes and runs from the police. The story’s single supernatural element—when Leigh touches people, she experiences their emotions—is woven deftly into the story, and the romance plot is compelling.

Tense and engaging—well worth the effort of suspending one’s disbelief. (Mystery. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3926-0

Page Count: 388

Publisher: Kathy Dawson/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.


After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...


Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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