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


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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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.


Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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An overall entertaining read.


From the Similars series , Vol. 2

In this sequel to The Similars (2018), tensions rise as the villains reveal a ploy to exact revenge on the Ten and their families and ultimately take over the world.

When Emma Chance returns to her elite boarding school, Darkwood Academy, for her senior year, things are different: Her best friend, Ollie Ward, is back while Levi Gravelle, Ollie’s clone and Emma’s love interest, has been imprisoned on Castor Island. More importantly, Emma is coming to terms with the contents of a letter from Gravelle which states that she is Eden, a Similar created to replace the original Emma, who died as a child. To complicate matters further, other clones—who are not Similars—infiltrate Darkwood, and Emma and her friends uncover a plot that threatens not only the lives of everyone they care about, but also the world as they know it. Hanover wastes no time delving right into the action; readers unfamiliar with the first book may get lost. This duology closer is largely predictable and often filled with loopholes, but the fast-paced narrative and one unexpected plot twist make for an engaging ride. As before, most of the primary characters read as white, and supporting characters remain underdeveloped. Despite its flaws and often implausible turns of events, the novel calls attention to larger questions of identity, selfhood, and what it means to be human.

An overall entertaining read. (Dystopia. 13-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6513-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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