Packed with plot and studded with cliffhangers, Coben’s third Mickey Bolitar thriller grabs readers in the opening chapter...

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From the Mickey Bolitar series , Vol. 3

Young Mickey Bolitar searches for his missing father, confronts the online infatuation of his best friend and tries to find the truth surrounding a basketball drug scandal.

The story picks up shortly after the end of teen Mickey’s previous caper (Seconds Away, 2012), with his pal Spoon in the hospital, his mother in drug rehab and his dad dubiously reported dead. The mystery surrounding this last remains murky after the senior Bolitar’s exhumed coffin is revealed to contain only ashes. New, dangerous problems pop up almost immediately to challenge Mickey. His goth friend Ema asks for his help in finding her missing boyfriend; Mickey didn’t even know that she had a boyfriend, and he’s half right. Ema and Jared have only interacted online and never met. Transfer student Mickey struggles to fit in with the varsity basketball team and is blamed when star player Troy is suspended for drug use. And the elderly doomsayer known as the Bat Lady magically reappears to put Mickey back on the path to finding his father. Mickey also works hard to repair his relationship with near-girlfriend Rachel, though it helps not at all that she has recently broken up with Troy. Veteran Coben juggles all these balls with expertise, keeping events moving with lots of dialogue.

Packed with plot and studded with cliffhangers, Coben’s third Mickey Bolitar thriller grabs readers in the opening chapter and never lets go. (Mystery. 11-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25652-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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

THE LAKE

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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Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful.

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SALT TO THE SEA

January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens’ lives converge in hopes of escape.

Returning to the successful formula of her highly lauded debut, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys combines research (described in extensive backmatter) with well-crafted fiction to bring to life another little-known story: the sinking (from Soviet torpedoes) of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff. Told in four alternating voices—Lithuanian nurse Joana, Polish Emilia, Prussian forger Florian, and German soldier Alfred—with often contemporary cadences, this stints on neither history nor fiction. The three sympathetic refugees and their motley companions (especially an orphaned boy and an elderly shoemaker) make it clear that while the Gustloff was a German ship full of German civilians and soldiers during World War II, its sinking was still a tragedy. Only Alfred, stationed on the Gustloff, lacks sympathy; almost a caricature, he is self-delusional, unlikable, a Hitler worshiper. As a vehicle for exposition, however, and a reminder of Germany’s role in the war, he serves an invaluable purpose that almost makes up for the mustache-twirling quality of his petty villainy. The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn’t change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning.

Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful. (author’s note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-16030-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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