Whittled down to a stand-alone, this might have been a classic of so-bad-it’s-goodness. Instead, the series ends as it...

ASHES TO ASHES

From the Burn for Burn series , Vol. 3

Supernatural and real-life drama collide in a revenge fantasy run amok.

Once again, readers will find themselves on Jar Island, off the coast of Massachusetts, in the company of (mostly) moneyed youth with little more to do than foment drama among themselves. Once again, the not-so-well-laid plans of ritzy (but good-hearted!) Lillia Cho and rough-around-the-edges (but good-hearted!) Kat DeBrassio will go awry. Once again, readers will wonder, what is going on with Mary Zane? What’s going on is she’s dead, and she has been all along, her spirit trapped on Jar Island and bent on exacting vengeance against Reeve, whom she blames for her suicide years ago. Why did she wait so long for revenge? Why don’t Lillia and Kat try harder to find her or discuss the strange things they’re noticing, and how do they suddenly become expert spell-casters when it’s time to fight back? This trilogy has had readers pondering the differences between a read so bad it’s good and one that is merely lamentably bad. The former includes clichéd characters, predictable plotlines and clunky dialogue, but it also possesses a spirit of insouciance, a joie de vivre that propels readers breathlessly on. In short, it is a fun page-turner. The latter is a slog.

Whittled down to a stand-alone, this might have been a classic of so-bad-it’s-goodness. Instead, the series ends as it began: a tedious, overstuffed mess. (Paranormal suspense. 15-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4081-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality.

I'M NOT DYING WITH YOU TONIGHT

Two teenage girls—Lena and Campbell—come together following a football game night gone wrong.

Campbell, who is white and new to Atlanta, now attends the school where Lena, who is black, is a queen bee. At a game between McPherson High and their rival, a racist slur leads to fights, and shots are fired. The unlikely pair are thrown together as they try to escape the dangers on campus only to find things are even more perilous on the outside; a police blockade forces them to walk through a dangerous neighborhood toward home. En route, a peaceful protest turns into rioting, and the presence of police sets off a clash with protestors with gruesome consequences. The book attempts to tackle racial injustice in America by offering two contrasting viewpoints via narrators of different races. However, it portrays black characters as violent and criminal and the white ones as excusably ignorant and subtly racist, seemingly redeemed by moments when they pause to consider their privileges and biases. Unresolved story arcs, underdeveloped characters, and a jumpy plot that tries to pack too much into too small a space leave the story lacking. This is not a story of friendship but of how trauma can forge a bond—albeit a weak and questionable one—if only for a night.

An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality. (Fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7889-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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An atmospheric and creepy page-turner.

I KILLED ZOE SPANOS

Seventeen-year-old Anna Cicconi finds herself in the middle of a mystery when she takes a summer nanny job in the swanky Hamptons enclave of Herron Hills.

Frick begins her story at the end. Well, sort of. August in the Hamptons signals the turning of the leaves and sees the grisly discovery of 19-year-old Zoe Spanos’ body. Zoe disappeared on New Year’s Eve, and Anna, who happens to strongly resemble her, has confessed to her murder. However, Martina Green, who runs the podcast Missing Zoe, doesn’t believe Anna did it and attempts to find out what really happened. Flash back to June: Hard-partying recent high school grad Anna sees her new job caring for Tom and Emilia Bellamy’s 8-year-old daughter as a fresh start. As one sun-drenched day melts into the next, Anna is drawn to Windemere, the neighboring Talbots’ looming, Gothic-style home, and to the brooding, mysterious Caden Talbot. But Anna can’t shake a feeling of déjà vu, and she’s having impossible memories that intertwine her life with Zoe’s. Frick easily juggles multiple narratives, and readers will enjoy connecting the dots of her cleverly plotted thriller inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s classic Rebecca. Anna and Zoe are white; the supporting cast includes biracial characters Martina (Latinx/white) and Caden (black/white). Caden discusses grappling with being raised by white adoptive parents, facing racialized suspicion as Zoe’s boyfriend, and feeling marginalized at Yale.

An atmospheric and creepy page-turner. (map) (Thriller. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4970-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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