An intensely gripping tale with a surprise ending that’s fully earned.

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THE VANISHING SEASON

In this moody thriller set on an isolated Wisconsin peninsula, the tourists are gone, a serial killer’s at large, and incendiary passions ignite in winter’s deepening bitter cold.

Smart, responsible Maggie is every parent’s dream. She hasn’t complained about leaving her Chicago life and friends behind for the shabby house in Door County, where she knows no one; aware that her parents are doing their best in difficult times, she wants to spare them knowledge of her unhappiness. Her new friend—beautiful, impulsive Pauline from the mansion next door, who takes abundance for granted—draws Maggie into her world, which includes Liam, who’s been in love with Pauline for years. Though Pauline insists she doesn’t reciprocate, Maggie notices their interdependence. She observes Pauline’s beauty, wealth and freedom with wry detachment, but she needs all her self-control to tamp down her growing attraction to Liam. A series of unsolved murders whose victims are local young women provides narrative counterpoint. Community benefits are held for the survivors, but parents guard their daughters fearfully. Trust’s in short supply. After Pauline’s sent to Milwaukee for her protection, Liam and Maggie draw closer, and Maggie’s swept away. As she did in Tiger Lily (2012), Anderson provides an observer’s voice, a sort of pared-down Greek chorus, that foreshadows and warns of what is coming while remaining helpless to prevent it.

An intensely gripping tale with a surprise ending that’s fully earned. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-200327-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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