With poor structure and minimal stakes, this is a mystery best left alone.

FINDING FOREVER

From the Deadline Diaries series , Vol. 1

A teen starlet is kidnapped and an investigative blogger is on the case in this series opener.

Taylor Prince is on top of the world. She's a huge movie star with critical clout and box office bona fides. But everything is turned upside down when her 16th birthday party is raided by kidnappers and Taylor finds herself in the clutches of a youth-obsessed cult. Brooklyn Brant lives on the outskirts of Taylor's world, reporting on all the Hollywood gossip with her popular blog, Deadline Diaries. When Brooklyn is tipped off to Taylor's abduction, the chase is on. Baker revels in all the frothy excess Hollywood has to offer, providing readers a surface-level look at the two different sides of fame's coin. Unfortunately this surface is barely penetrated, making for a book without any subtext. Characters boldly pronounce their intentions, their philosophies, and their allegiances. The dialogue is often clunky and exposition-heavy. The author also makes the curious choice of alternating the narrative point of view between the two teen girls, so readers know exactly where Taylor is at all times and are stuck patiently waiting for Brooklyn to catch up. There's no ticking clock involved with Taylor's dilemma, therefore there are no stakes to be raised at any point. Making things worse, Brooklyn doesn't solve anything; the answer is just plopped into her lap at the last minute.

With poor structure and minimal stakes, this is a mystery best left alone. (Mystery. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7624-5594-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Running Press Teens

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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Fans of the previous entry will enjoy following the story of a young woman who changes the fates of two countries.

THE BETRAYED

Lady Hollis flees her country after her new husband is killed.

In The Betrothed (2020), Hollis fell in love with Silas, the son of an Isolten family who sought asylum from their cruel king, and chose him over her intended match, King Jameson. Since Silas, his father, his brothers, and her parents have been killed, she decides to travel to Isolte with her mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Formerly primarily interested in dresses, dancing, and romance, Hollis now proves her mettle. Etan, Silas’ cousin, arrives to escort the family, and he clashes with Hollis from the moment they meet. The society they live in, modeled after medieval Europe, with castles, tournaments, kings, queens, and nobles, generally follows traditional gender roles, but Hollis sometimes breaks through the accepted boundaries. When Etan wants to lead a revolt against his own King Quinten, who is just one of the novel’s major betrayers, Hollis uses her wits to get the evidence needed to convince others that he is guilty of crimes against his own people. She bravely returns to Coroa to confront King Jameson when she finds out that he, too, has carried out unspeakable crimes. Hollis and Etan’s verbal wars are fun, predictably leading to love, but the political intrigue sometimes drags the novel down. Characters default to White.

Fans of the previous entry will enjoy following the story of a young woman who changes the fates of two countries. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-229166-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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