Readers who don’t mind a little brain spatter on the windshield will be happy they took this particular trip


The zombie apocalypse begins on a Venturer Scout camping trip in the hills outside of Los Angeles when Cassie’s would-be boyfriend, Mark, reanimates after an unfortunate paintball accident.

It soon becomes appallingly clear that Mark is just the first in a sudden, worldwide phenomenon. In very short order, Cassie and five other camping-trip refugees find themselves in a van headed across the country in hopes of finding the twin sister of one of her companions alive in New York City. Heartbreak, humor, a very large number of crushed skulls and even romance ensue. Titchenell avoids trying to explain the zombies, just plunging her protagonists into a landscape teeming with shambling corpses and littered with abandoned cars. As with any good road trip, the pleasure in this book resides mostly in the evolving relationships among the teens, who must progress from fractious individualism to solidarity in order to survive. For all its formulaic nature, this progress is accomplished with beautiful emotional honesty. The author provides some moments of grace amid the horror: A handful of survivors welcome the teens at the Tulsa Zoo; the kids have an epic movie night at Graceland. Cassie’s first-person “confessions” are smartly paced and voiced, and they end on just the right note.

Readers who don’t mind a little brain spatter on the windshield will be happy they took this particular trip . (Horror. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-939967-30-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Jolly Fish Press

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.


Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.


Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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