Sweet, popular Mary, the pastor's daughter, has been viciously murdered, and the killer makes it clear that it's because of her relationship with Avery, a transgender boy.
The killer is taunting Avery, and his girlfriend, Beth, and best friend Charlie feel pressure from their parents to stay away from him to keep safe. Avery's strong, supportive family, including his uncle Tom, a cop, shield him from the worst cruelty a small town can press on a trans boy, but when the killer demands that Avery de-transition and dress like a girl, even his biggest advocates can't see a better way to keep him safe. In addition to delivering a tense, fast-paced thriller, Devine has done a solid job of writing a teenage trans boy, dealing successfully with dysphoria, the flood of feelings when someone sees one’s true self, even the niggling self-doubt that can cast a shadow on even the most loving relationships when gender issues arise. Avery feels true. But there is horrific violence employed to bring home the point that trans people are more likely to be the victims of sadistic predators than to be predators themselves. While writing tragedy for queer (all-white) characters to teach a lesson has become a trope, Devine sidesteps the usual benevolent cis hero and lets Avery address his own problems head-on and be his own hero.
A solid serial-killer thriller for horror fans who'd like to root for the queer kid. (Thriller. 13 & up)