A group of close friends find themselves embroiled in a sinister plot in novelist and playwright Odentz’s (Wicked Dead, 2016, etc.) latest YA novel.
Four high school seniors wake up deep in the woods on the outskirts of bucolic Meadowfield, Massachusetts. To their horror, each of their bodies has been altered in some fashion, and none of the kids have any memories of the previous night. Odentz has the quick-witted Weston Kahn narrate the story with youthful personality and humor as he observes his friends, including local jock Anders Stephenson, who’s covered in blood; alien-conspiracy theorist Robbie Myers, who’s missing his glass eye; and confidante Marcy, who’s missing her pants. Weston himself has a tiny, triangular symbol burned into his arm. The shell-shocked quartet stumbles home, and each teen attempts to cover for the others. Further mayhem begins almost immediately: Weston thinks that Sandra Berman, a teenage girl who went missing three years ago, may have been the victim of a homicide just across the street from her house—the victim of a serial killer who threatens the sleepy town’s sense of security. Blurry memories start to return to the teen foursome, Anders begins exhibiting strangely violent behavior, and they eventually determine that someone drugged them all. They attempt to solve the mystery themselves even while admitting that going to “a hospital is probably the right thing to do—even the smart thing to do.” As the slightly convoluted puzzle pieces start to fall into place, deep secrets are revealed and guilty parties make their move to silence the group. Overall, this novel is creative, atmospheric, and effectively detailed, and Odentz maintains a firm grasp on the conversational tone and flow of the story, which seems tailor-made for YA suspense fans. He builds out his novel subtly and incrementally with interrelated characterizations of the teenagers and their family members, and he keeps the story moving with fine pacing, realistic dialogue, and a good sense of place. Throughout, he empowers his characters with intriguing histories, melodramatic infighting, and general teenage growing pains that bring them to vibrant life.
A simmering psychological thriller bolstered by a dynamic narrative voice and a few unexpected twists.