An effective paranormal thriller, even in this crowded market.

MIND GAMES

In this series opener from the author of the Paranormalcy trilogy, two strong-willed sisters struggle to free themselves from a sinister organization that grooms girls with paranormal abilities to serve twisted, illegal ends.

Two years after their parents’ deaths, the Keane School foundation offered to house and educate Annie and Fia. Sighted Fia—knowing their reluctant caregiver was attracted by the free ride and that Annie, blind, longed for educational opportunities—acquiesced, setting aside her suspicions about the foundation’s hidden agenda. For five years the coldly manipulative staff has controlled the girls by holding each hostage against the other. Though Annie’s clairvoyant visions interest them, Fia’s gift for making successful choices is more valuable. Scarred and toughened by brutal conditioning, the girls fight back; their unwavering mutual devotion brightens the dark tale. Annie’s a rounded, co-equal protagonist, not merely an extension of her disability. (Yes, she’s magically gifted, but so are the disability-free female characters, and like them, she has flaws.) While she uses the prejudice blindness evokes in sighted people to gain unique access to Keane’s powerbrokers, Fia, more damaged, is forced to serve its ends by the founder’s handsome son, James, charismatic and equally damaged. The flashback-heavy narration, initially confusing, proves effective, constructing a temporal mosaic that holds readers’ interest and builds suspense as events come into focus.

An effective paranormal thriller, even in this crowded market. (Paranormal thriller. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-213531-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist.

LOCK THE DOORS

A blended family seeks a fresh start in a new home.

Tom’s mother believes that the family may have finally found happiness. After years of dating losers, she’s finally settled down with a nice guy—and that nice guy, Jay, happens to have a daughter, Nia, who is just a little older than Tom. The new family has moved into a nice new house, but Tom can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong. They discover a strange message written on the wall when they are stripping the old wallpaper, and there’s clear evidence that the previous owners had installed locks on the exteriors of the bedroom doors. Those previous owners happen to live a little farther down the street, and Tom quickly becomes obsessed with their teenage daughter, Amy, and the secrets she’s hiding. This obsession unfortunately becomes a repetitive slog involving many pages of Tom’s brooding and sulking over the same bits of information while everyone tells him to move on. Readers will be on everyone’s side. But then, a blessed breath of fresh air: The perspective shifts to Amy, and readers learn in spectacularly propulsive fashion exactly what she’s hiding. Regret and intrigue blend perfectly as Amy divulges her secrets. Alas, we return to navel-gazing Tom for the book’s final pages, and everything ends with a shrug. Main characters default to White.

A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72823-189-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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