A taut, gripping page-turner with a strong female hero to root for.

I AM STILL ALIVE

Still battered from the car crash that took her mother’s life, Jess is sent to live in the remote Canadian wilderness with Carl, the father she barely remembers—and then he’s murdered.

Carl’s lessons in living off the grid (no phone, electricity, or running water) and hesitant attempts at connecting with Jess end abruptly when associates from his unsavory past arrive to collect money he doesn’t have. Hiding with Carl’s dog, Bo, Jess watches her dad ask for more time. Instead, Raph, the leader, shoots Carl. Burying him with the mysterious crate he’s safeguarded for them, they burn the cabin and fly off. Only Carl’s friend Griff, who flew her in, knows Jess is there, but he won’t return for a year. With brains and ingenuity compensating for her physical weakness, Jess finds shelter, makes fire, and feeds and protects herself and Bo. Yet small mistakes, moments of inattention, nearly prove lethal. Raph might return for the crate, and winter’s approaching. To obtain ammunition for Carl’s rifle, Jess makes a desperate but pivotal decision. Presumably white, as are other characters, Jess is believable, her setbacks realistic, her successes earned. She is on a solitary journey—a quest not for treasure but for survival—that demands all her strength, each day a test of endurance, patience, and hope.

A taut, gripping page-turner with a strong female hero to root for. (Thriller. 12-17)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-29098-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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