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

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THE TRUTH LIES HERE

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 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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

A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

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

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. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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