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THE TRUTH LIES HERE

A surprisingly heartfelt coming-of-age story wrapped in a zany package.

While trying to find her missing father, Penny uncovers a conspiracy in the Upper Peninsula.

Penny’s father lost her trust when she discovered that he fabricated the cryptozoology stories for his tabloid magazine column. Years later, she returns to small-town Michigan from Chicago, where she has lived with her mother since her parents’ divorce, for a summer visit with him, planning on mining the town for an article about its decline due to the recession, which shuttered the local plant that was the area’s employer. When her father doesn’t show up to meet her at the airport, she thinks he’s chasing a story—but the geeky boy next door, her one-time best friend, half-Chippewa Dex, who is now her father’s protégé, thinks it’s something sinister. After Penny’s investigations into local economic woes turn up an oddity (the word-for-word identical response that it’s “best not to think too much about it” from anyone asked about an accident at the plant), mysterious federal agent types show up around town, and bodies similar to the mysterious one that prompted Penny’s father’s latest story start to pile up. Penny becomes determined to get to the bottom of everything, and her well-plotted, conspiracy-laden journey leads her to revelations about perspective and her relationships with various loved ones. Aside from Dex and his mother, all characters are white.

A surprisingly heartfelt coming-of-age story wrapped in a zany package. (Science-fiction thriller. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-238039-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

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Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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