A promising character study is derailed by a conspiracy-theory plot that comes out of nowhere.
Ever since the death of her guardian when she was 9, Abigail has knocked around Glasgow’s foster-care system. But when she’s 16, her birth mother dies—and she’s left Abigail money, a one-way ticket to America and a letter. Abigail actually has a father and a sister in Los Angeles that she’s never met, and her mother’s dying wish is that Abigail live with them now. After the realistic depiction of Abigail’s struggles to get out of Glasgow, LA at first seems like a fairy tale to Abigail. There’s a rich father with connections, an enthusiastic stepmother and her sister Becky, who brings Abigail into the world of underground graffiti street art. But the mysterious death of her sister sends the plot swerving into conspiracy theories about teens being put under mind control, and it devolves into describing Abigail’s attempts to figure out how her father and sister are connected to this.
Life for Abigail in Glasgow is presented as gritty, dark and hard, beautifully demonstrating Abigail’s inner reserves of strength, but grafting the mind-control plot onto it turns the story into a generic paranoia thriller. (Thriller. 14 & up)