Despite an interesting premise, the uneven juxtaposition of mystery and historical fiction shortchanges both plots, giving...

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THE GIRL IN A COMA

After being shot, white Canadian Allison Briscoe finds herself in a persistent vegetative state, paralyzed but aware of her surroundings.

To pass the time, she becomes a "potato detective," pondering various mysteries. Who shot her, and why? Who comes into her room at night? And who is killing patients every 17 days? Allie's thought processes are alternately flighty and witty—impressive for a 15-year-old with a bullet in her brain—and her attempts to communicate add suspense and poignancy. However, the novel’s structure falls apart. Critical plot points are abruptly resolved in passive summary paragraphs with little description or dialogue, despite Allison's ability to hear. Allison's mystery is interrupted by historical subplots—her state somehow allows her to dream the experiences of her ancestors, each woman connected to a period in Canadian history: the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Upper Canada Rebellion. These third-person dreams are connected to Allie by her necklace: an heirloom made by Paul Revere that may contain a secret. Her ancestors' interactions with such figures as George Washington, Isaac Brock, and Charles Dickens feel like historical product placement, but they may prompt readers to seek more information; there is no bibliography.

Despite an interesting premise, the uneven juxtaposition of mystery and historical fiction shortchanges both plots, giving the book itself the rushed, disjointed quality of a dream. (Thriller. 13-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-929345-24-3

Page Count: 318

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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This breathless political thriller isn't always coherent, but it keeps the adrenaline pumping

EVERY SECOND COUNTS

Two teens framed as terrorists need to save England from a terrorist attack and political takeover.

Charlie and Nat have been on the run since they were tricked into aiding a kidnapping and bombing (In a Split Second, 2015). Charlie, furious after the attack that killed her mother and left Nat's older brother in a coma, tried to do good by training as a soldier for the vigilante English Freedom Army. Nat and Charlie were told the EFA existed to fight terrorists like the racist League of Iron, but it turns out they were terrorists, fomenting chaos to support the political aspirations of charismatic politician Roman Riley. Now the teens, distracted by both their romance and Charlie's family secrets, must stop Riley from creating a far worse atrocity. Their single-minded focus on each other even as they learn of potentially horrific casualties can be read as either romantic or utterly lacking in empathy, but at least they prioritize the mission. Chapters that alternate their perspectives, most only about three pages, maintain endless urgency in the style of the television series 24. Though some lulls might have improved the flow, the nonstop action distracts from plot holes and flat secondary characters. U.S. readers may be bemused at the U.K. revolutionaries’ discussions of bombings but shock at the use of guns.

This breathless political thriller isn't always coherent, but it keeps the adrenaline pumping . (Thriller. 13-15)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3926-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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The mystery is tense and nerve-wracking, and the acrobatics are gorgeously hair-raising; they will help readers get past...

GIRL ON A WIRE

Family secrets and sinister superstitions threaten 16-year-old wire walker Jules Maroni’s chance at a big break.

Jules doesn’t understand why her family lets some old rivalry with the Flying Garcias keep them from the glamorous Cirque American. Something bad happened between Jules’ grandmother and the legendary trapeze artists when Nan was young, but now the Amazing Maronis have a chance—possibly the last—to leave obscurity and gain the recognition their talent deserves! When the Maronis finally join the Cirque American, Jules is dismayed that everyone in this new circus seems to hold the same grudge as Nan. Worse, the dreamy boy she meets is none other than Remy Garcia, scion of her family’s archrivals. Jules is determined to gain the admiration of her fellow performers, so she performs a series of increasingly dangerous wire acts. While Jules’ perspective of her daredevilry is not in the slightest bit frightening, the narration is nonetheless heart-stopping; readers might find themselves checking their own footing. A mysterious stalker leaves Jules a series of increasingly disturbing artifacts—a flower, a peacock feather, a circus trunk—and Nan is convinced the objects are cursed, leaving Jules and Remy determined to get to the bottom of their grandparents’ possibly mystical rivalry. When tragedy inevitably strikes, the impact is blunted, as the secondary characters (or Jules’ feelings for them) are little more than the barest sketches.

The mystery is tense and nerve-wracking, and the acrobatics are gorgeously hair-raising; they will help readers get past thinly developed characters and setting . (Thriller. 13-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4782-4

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Skyscape

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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