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From the Dark Intercept series , Vol. 2

Sloppy and cringeworthy

Two years after Violet destroyed the Intercept in The Dark Intercept (2017), she’s pulled into a mystery that reveals the Intercept might not be gone.

A one-page recap covers the events and technology of the last book. Violet now runs the near-failing Crowley & Associates Detective Agency. She’s offered a case by the mother of a teen whose death has been ruled a suicide—the mother knows her daughter wouldn’t kill herself. Readers must power through Violet’s tensionless doubt despite definitive knowledge from the girl’s point-of-view passage right before her death and multiple pages about the other mysterious alleged suicides that follow (and that convince Violet that it’s more than a coincidence). Many of the investigation’s deductions come from Violet’s fellow teen employee (one of the few characters of color), while Violet dwells on the dark secret that she and Kendall saved his notes on the Intercept. Themes of change and of despair linked to unemployment are less relatable to the characters’ chronological ages than to the ages they act—most characters are fully independent genius prodigies, including a preteen who’s “one of the top lawyers on New Earth.” The uneven writing bounces among maudlin, melodramatic, and painfully cliché, with narration clunkers like “…the Intercept is dead. Or is it?” (of course it’s not) and “The tables had turned. The hunters were about to become the hunted.” The conclusion will frustrate.

Sloppy and cringeworthy . (Dystopian adventure. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7653-8765-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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Unlikely to gain the author any new readers but will appeal to her fans.

Marley, who’s on the cusp of graduating from high school, looks forward to going to college in California, but first, she must endure senior prank week.

What began as a harmless tradition to annoy the hapless school principal has evolved into a more serious series of pranks and dares orchestrated by the five Wilder brothers: Everett, Emmett, Rhett, Garrett, and Truett. Rhett, who’s Marley’s former friend, is leading this year’s pranks and imposing severe consequences on non-participants. When their dare results in tragedy for a group of friends—Marley, Luce, Jesse, and Atlas (Marley’s boyfriend)—they make a pact to keep what happened a secret. Marley continues to be wracked with self-reproach, however, and paranoia and guilt begin to tear the teens’ friendships apart. It’s crucial for readers to approach the book with suspension of disbelief, because the characters sometimes act without clear motivation and at other times seem to understand who’s responsible for events based on very flimsy evidence. The dialogue also becomes repetitive at points. While this may not be Preston’s strongest work, her dedicated followers will find in it the suspenseful approach they love. Luce is cued Latine; Atlas reads Black, and the rest of the characters present white.

Unlikely to gain the author any new readers but will appeal to her fans. (Thriller. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780593704066

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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Readers will be captivated by this twisty thriller and its uncompromising protagonist.

The mother Annabel Price thought was dead returns with a story about where she’s been—but 18-year-old Bel knows she’s lying.

Ever since Rachel Price’s unexplained disappearance 16 years ago, true-crime fans have come up with plentiful theories about what happened. Bel and her family members, who are white, cobbled together lives for themselves after a jury found Bel’s father, Charlie, not guilty of murdering his wife. Beset with medical bills for his elderly father, Charlie recently agreed to participate in a documentary about the unsolved mystery. Black British filmmaker Ramsey Lee is well into the process of interviewing the Prices when his project gets an unanticipated boost after an exhausted, disheveled Rachel staggers back into town. Rachel is eager to resume her role in the family, but the inconsistencies in her accounts raise alarms for Bel. With the help of the youngest member of the filmmaking team, Bel sets out to learn what really happened. Along the way, someone else disappears, and Bel uncovers a tangle of lies that make it impossible for her to trust people she thought she knew. When things come to a head the night of her grandfather’s 85th birthday party, Bel ends up in a race for her life. The last quarter of the novel tears along at a breakneck pace before arriving at a satisfying and unexpected conclusion.

Readers will be captivated by this twisty thriller and its uncompromising protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780593374207

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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