Though not spectacular, this competent, swift novel would be welcome spring-break fare.

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CHANCE OF RAIN

An undemanding YA thriller heavy on chaste teenage romance.

Ashley Devoe is a typical high school senior. She and her best friend, Brianne, have after-school jobs, swooning crushes and, in Ashley’s case, separated parents who can sometimes go overboard with the protectiveness. Ashley’s father, an undercover cop, has come off a tough stint busting a meth lab; while Ashley respects his work, she resents the distance it has created within her family. Plus, her dad’s friend Chase is spending too much time with her mom for Ashley’s taste. So when Trent, a new, desperately handsome addition to the senior class, takes an interest in Ashley, she relishes the opportunity to connect. Trent, however, is somewhat more mysterious than the other boys at school: Why won’t he open up more about his past, his family or where he lives? Why does he have Ashley’s father’s cellphone number? Why does he always seem to show up when least expected? And why on Earth does he have a gun in his car? At first, Ashley is too enamored to care; the scent of his cologne alone is romantically overwhelming. Trent’s mysterious qualities—and his reason for the gun—are illuminated after a late, rainy night at work when Ashley catches a ride with a fellow employee who turns out to have deep connection to her father. Author Veil (Psychomanteum, 2014, etc.) knows how to dial up the suspense: For about the first half of the book, the titular chance of rain slowly increases until both the literal and figurative thunderstorms arrive. After this initial climax, the short, final chapters are told from Ashley’s first-person perspective and from other characters’ third-person perspectives, which, though jarring at first, lend texture to Veil’s fairly run-of-the-mill thriller. Veil also captures the occasional inanity of teenage speech, and yet she never condescends to her young protagonists. Young adults will recognize the nuances of high school relationships, and the happy ending will satisfy those who enjoy neat resolutions.

Though not spectacular, this competent, swift novel would be welcome spring-break fare. 

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1492225409

Page Count: 200

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2014

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THE BOOK THIEF

When Death tells a story, you pay attention. Liesel Meminger is a young girl growing up outside of Munich in Nazi Germany, and Death tells her story as “an attempt—a flying jump of an attempt—to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.” When her foster father helps her learn to read and she discovers the power of words, Liesel begins stealing books from Nazi book burnings and the mayor’s wife’s library. As she becomes a better reader, she becomes a writer, writing a book about her life in such a miserable time. Liesel’s experiences move Death to say, “I am haunted by humans.” How could the human race be “so ugly and so glorious” at the same time? This big, expansive novel is a leisurely working out of fate, of seemingly chance encounters and events that ultimately touch, like dominoes as they collide. The writing is elegant, philosophical and moving. Even at its length, it’s a work to read slowly and savor. Beautiful and important. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83100-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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