Readers might do well to take his advice.

A BAD DAY FOR VOODOO

When Tyler’s jerky sophomore-history teacher falsely accuses him of cheating, his somewhat psycho best friend Adam pays to have a voodoo doll made of their teacher.

Despite Tyler’s initial disbelief that the doll could be real, the two try it out the following day. Tyler sticks the doll’s leg with a pin, and his teacher’s leg flies off, spurting blood everywhere. The paramedics take him away. The two boys proceed to freak out—Adam much more so than Tyler, because then he has a voodoo doll made in Tyler’s image to blackmail him from spilling their story to the cops. All of this happens in the first 45 pages, and what ensues is a ridiculously stupid chase to rescue the doll from car-stealing thugs, a Rottweiler and a host of other bizarre and mildly humorous characters before Tyler meets an untimely demise. Strand’s best selling point is his ability to create authentic teen voices and craft wacky plot twists that baffle and surprise readers. The novel’s assets stop there, however. The characterizations are shaky. The plotting is haphazard and dissonant, and the author occasionally inserts his own commentary into the novel at various points, advising readers to “take a break and read the Hunger Games again.”

Readers might do well to take his advice. (Thriller. 12 & up)

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4022-6680-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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A dark and enthralling journey.

VESPERTINE

In a land threatened by violent spirits, a girl with a haunted past unleashes an ancient entity from a holy relic and strikes a deal for the power to save her home.

Ever since the Sorrow, the dead no longer pass on peacefully. Without the intervention of the Clerisy of the Gray Lady, they roam as destructive spirits. Artemisia of Naimes, gifted with the ability to see the spirits, never intends to leave her convent, where the walls protect her from possession and (Lady forbid) social interaction. Her plans crumble when a group of possessed soldiers attack her home. Reluctantly, Artemisia unseals a legendary relic, binding herself to a revenant, an undead being with immense power. Untrained in controlling spirits and desperate to protect her home, she bargains with the revenant to help her. Amid escalating danger and an unfolding mystery, Rogerson unveils a grim and intriguing world with a rich, plot-relevant history inspired by late-medieval France. In addition to the White protagonist, the narration describes several secondary characters with brown skin; the revenant is identified as “it,” while human characters in this world adhere to a gender binary. Artemisia experiences dynamic character growth as her understandings of trauma, history, and morality shift. Although she remains socially avoidant, she learns to value friendship. A satisfying but open-ended resolution demands for the story to continue.

A dark and enthralling journey. (glossary) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7711-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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