A fresh, mostly successful thriller about vengeance, loyalty, and friendship

SLEEPER

A teenage girl suffering from a sleep disorder finds that an experimental drug cure comes with some unexpected and potentially deadly side effects.

High school senior Sarah Reyes is a “good and appropriately ambitious soldier” in the army of queen bee Gigi. All’s well until Sarah almost snaps Gigi’s neck during a sleepover, the result of a REM sleep behavior disorder that renders her unable to control her actions while she sleeps. She physically acts out her dreams. Sarah, who is multiracial (“a hint of Latin America, a dash of Dutch colonialist, plus a generous helping of Southeast Asia”), becomes a social pariah after the incident with Gigi. But she has the support of her ex-boyfriend Jamie, who is black, and her white best friend, Tessa. Sarah also becomes involved with Wes, a new white guy at school. But Sarah knows she’s seen Wes somewhere before—in one of her nightmares. When Sarah tries an experimental drug to cure her disorder, the strange side effects are way more than she bargained for. Both savvy and vulnerable, Sarah draws readers in with her dry wit as she laments her fall from social grace. Well-placed social media and pop-culture references further anchor them in Sarah’s increasingly surreal world. The paranormal elements of the story are suspenseful and surprising, but the book’s otherwise solid pacing lags at times during the dreamscape scenes.

A fresh, mostly successful thriller about vengeance, loyalty, and friendship . (Paranormal thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3614-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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