An effective paranormal thriller, even in this crowded market.

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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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This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion.

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LONG WAY DOWN

After 15-year-old Will sees his older brother, Shawn, gunned down on the streets, he sets out to do the expected: the rules dictate no crying, no snitching, and revenge.

Though the African-American teen has never held one, Will leaves his apartment with his brother’s gun tucked in his waistband. As he travels down on the elevator, the door opens on certain floors, and Will is confronted with a different figure from his past, each a victim of gun violence, each important in his life. They also force Will to face the questions he has about his plan. As each “ghost” speaks, Will realizes how much of his own story has been unknown to him and how intricately woven they are. Told in free-verse poems, this is a raw, powerful, and emotional depiction of urban violence. The structure of the novel heightens the tension, as each stop of the elevator brings a new challenge until the narrative arrives at its taut, ambiguous ending. There is considerable symbolism, including the 15 bullets in the gun and the way the elevator rules parallel street rules. Reynolds masterfully weaves in textured glimpses of the supporting characters. Throughout, readers get a vivid picture of Will and the people in his life, all trying to cope with the circumstances of their environment while expressing the love, uncertainty, and hope that all humans share.

This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion. (Verse fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3825-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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