A captivating story of a reluctant hero that will leave readers eagerly anticipating the next installment.

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LOST ONE STANDING

Ruthless mercenaries invade a posh New England prep school and confront resourceful teens in this high-stakes YA thriller.

Seventeen-year-old Cade Dixon is part Holden Caulfield, part Jason Bourne, with a touch of MacGyver. He was raised by a single mother whose administrative position at a prep school enables him to attend. He covertly sells homework assignments to his wealthy classmates and harbors a crush on a student named Kira but hasn’t yet kissed a girl. He’s inordinately curious, highly intelligent, and knows every hiding place in the school. These characteristics, combined with his mastery of mixed martial arts, make him a terrific foil for brilliant, diabolical criminal mastermind Reilly, who’s employed 14 heavily armed men to lay siege to the school. He has sophisticated, encrypted communication devices enabling him to jam all cellphones and electronics on campus and to tap into law enforcement agencies’ feeds. Cade avoids the initial student roundup and works to prevent what horrors he can; he manages to get his mother released, enlist Kira’s aid, and inflict serious injury on some henchmen. Meanwhile, Reilly announces his plan: The 10 richest parents of the hostages must transfer as much money as they can raise in an hour into an offshore account. The child whose parents raise the least will be executed. The story’s pacing is taut and its tension intense, but it’s tempered by the enjoyable pairing of Cade and Kira. Both are supersmart, funny kids whose knowledge base includes physics, chemistry, psychology, and even Morse code to help them outfox Reilly. Apt high school references abound, as when Cade notes that a weaponized 1922 school trophy is solid metal because “back then you only gave out one”—no participation awards necessary. Kira pulls off a few acts that are reminiscent of Katniss Everdeen’s exploits because, due to the popularity of The Hunger Games and Brave, “every girl in school had been obsessed with all things archery.” The book’s positive depictions of female roles and slyly understated politics are also appealing.

A captivating story of a reluctant hero that will leave readers eagerly anticipating the next installment.

Pub Date: April 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73469-241-9

Page Count: 258

Publisher: Waterfall Films, LLC

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A mystery/thriller that’s equal parts heartfelt and shocking.

TEEN KILLERS CLUB

An accused murderer is thrust into an assassin training program.

Seventeen-year-old Signal Deere is serving hard time after a hazy night with her former best friend, Rose, which ended with Rose’s body in her lap, an emotional trial, and the media moniker the “Girl from Hell.” After her caseworker, Dave, assures Signal there’s no way she’ll get a successful appeal, he offers her an alternative: being shipped off to a mysterious camp and enrolled in a top-secret government training program unofficially known as the Teen Killers Club. There, Signal and other adolescent Class A felons (the most dangerous kind) undergo various drills—among them, dismembering fake corpses and dissolving flesh in acid—in preparation for eventually being used as assassins against government targets. The teens have been injected with a device remotely controlled by their trainers that will kill them if they attempt to escape the camp or otherwise disobey orders. As Signal nurses an attraction to sensitive tattooed Javier and fights her feelings for handsome sociopath Erik, she begins to piece together what really happened that night with Rose. Sparks crafts a page-turner with a disturbingly unusual premise, snappy dialogue, and characters that go deeper than their heinous crimes. Signal and Erik are assumed White; love interest Javier is cued as Latinx, and there is some diversity in the supporting cast.

A mystery/thriller that’s equal parts heartfelt and shocking. (Thriller. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-229-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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

SIX OF CROWS

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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