A frothy mystery that trips over its desire for social relevance.

NEED

A mysterious social network sows discontent.

NEED is the hot new thing. The social network claims to provide the one thing each member truly needs. All a user has to do is provide the site with a request and perform a task. These tasks start off small, like emailing invitations to join the site to five people, but the bigger the need, the bigger the task. Sixteen-year-old Kaylee has one big need: a new kidney for her ailing younger brother. NEED has promised her the kidney, but how far will Kaylee go to get it? And how far will her classmates go to get what they desire above all else? Charbonneau provides readers with Kaylee's first-person perspective and sprinkles in several chapters from those of her peers. The result is a web as intricate as NEED's own networking. Less interesting is Kaylee's single-mindedness. The chapters that don't feature Kaylee are a welcome respite from her obsession with her younger brother's health. This trait is honorable at first, but it won’t take long for readers to decide that Kaylee has nothing else going on. When her friend Nate professes undying love, readers will wonder why. Other characters, such as Gina, the school's mean girl, and Ethan, a budding sociopath, are a delight. The book also squanders nuance regarding NEED's social and psychological implications. These themes are spoken aloud by NEED's creator, a comically villainous character who would be charming if one didn’t suspect her primary purpose is making subtext into text.

A frothy mystery that trips over its desire for social relevance. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-41669-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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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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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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