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THE GLARE

A chilling way to turn screen time into scream time.

Teens discover a computer game said to be deadly.

When Hedda’s mother needs to visit a sick friend, Hedda gets to leave the technology-free desert ranch she’s been sequestered at since she was 6 to stay with her tech-developer father in California. Based on Hedda’s neurological episodes which prompted the desert move, her mother’s convinced that “the Glare,” Hedda’s childhood nickname for technology, is addictive and dangerous. Plagued by strange nightmares and some missing memories, Hedda wants to go to a real school and be a regular teen, and so she takes advantage of the temporary move to give technology another try. But when she finds a mysterious message written by her child-self, she ends up on the Dark Web encountering a game called the Glare. By the time she learns the creepypasta viral legend about it (if you die 13 times on the unbeatable 13th level, you die for real), it’s already too late—and worse, it’s gotten out to her fledgling circle of friends. The psychological manipulations mirror augmented reality games, and the theories behind the game are built on too-real conditioning techniques used by ads, games, and social media. The teens struggle to tell what’s real, what can hurt (or kill) them, and if they can escape. The expertly balanced reality-blurring storyline and strategic technology depictions seed psychological scares that will linger long after reading. Side characters’ names signal ethnic diversity.

A chilling way to turn screen time into scream time. (Horror/science fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-00565-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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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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