The speed and tidiness of the ending may disappoint savvy readers, but this book may find an audience with those who can...

FIX ME

To what lengths would you go to see a good friend who can only be found in a drug-induced haze? One addict is about to find out.

When readers meet Penelope, the white teen has been using Fix, a (fictional) once-legal antidepressant and mood stabilizer, since she started hanging out with drug-addicted Rose, a brown-skinned Latina. Pen’s ready to stop, but Fix can be a hard drug to quit: it allows users to control their hallucinations, and for Pen this includes the ghostly hallucination Nate, a fairly regular visitor since her sister’s death a year before. Logically, Pen knows the dangers of Fix; she can see what Fix is doing to Rose and has read about the health problems associated with long-term use. But can she say goodbye to Nate? Meanwhile, girls are going missing, turning her friends and fellow users into suspects. Cronkhite does much well; she captures the “I need to stop but can’t” feelings of an addict beautifully as well as the feelings of peer pressure, isolation, and depression that often accompany teenage years. The Fix addiction, Nate, and the mystery of the missing girls come to a head in the third act, and this is where the book suffers. In a rush to tie up all of her plot threads, Cronkhite undoes much of the work that makes Pen’s story so believable and compelling.

The speed and tidiness of the ending may disappoint savvy readers, but this book may find an audience with those who can happily suspend disbelief. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63583-008-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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