A chilling way to turn screen time into scream time.

THE GLARE

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 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist.

LOCK THE DOORS

A blended family seeks a fresh start in a new home.

Tom’s mother believes that the family may have finally found happiness. After years of dating losers, she’s finally settled down with a nice guy—and that nice guy, Jay, happens to have a daughter, Nia, who is just a little older than Tom. The new family has moved into a nice new house, but Tom can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong. They discover a strange message written on the wall when they are stripping the old wallpaper, and there’s clear evidence that the previous owners had installed locks on the exteriors of the bedroom doors. Those previous owners happen to live a little farther down the street, and Tom quickly becomes obsessed with their teenage daughter, Amy, and the secrets she’s hiding. This obsession unfortunately becomes a repetitive slog involving many pages of Tom’s brooding and sulking over the same bits of information while everyone tells him to move on. Readers will be on everyone’s side. But then, a blessed breath of fresh air: The perspective shifts to Amy, and readers learn in spectacularly propulsive fashion exactly what she’s hiding. Regret and intrigue blend perfectly as Amy divulges her secrets. Alas, we return to navel-gazing Tom for the book’s final pages, and everything ends with a shrug. Main characters default to White.

A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72823-189-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic.

ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS

An Irish teen grapples with past misdeeds and newfound ties to magic.

When 16-year-old Maeve discovers a deck of tarot cards stashed with a mixtape of moody indie music from 1990, she starts giving readings for her classmates at her all-girls private school. Though her shame over dumping her strange friend Lily during an attempt to climb the social ladder at St. Bernadette’s is still palpable, it doesn’t stop her from trying to use the tarot in her favor to further this goal. However, after speaking harsh words to Lily during a reading, Maeve is horrified when her former friend later disappears. As she struggles to understand the forces at play within her, classmate Fiona proves to be just the friend Maeve needs. Detailed, interesting characters carry this contemporary story of competing energy and curses. Woven delicately throughout are chillingly eerie depictions of the Housekeeper, a figure who shows up on an extra card in the deck, echoing the White Lady legend from Irish folklore. Even more disturbing is an organization of young people led by a homophobic but charismatic figurehead intent on provoking backlash against Ireland’s recent civil rights victories. Most characters are White; Fiona is biracial, with a Filipina mother and White Irish father. Roe, Maeve’s love interest and Lily’s sibling, is a bisexual, genderqueer person who is a target for intolerance in their small city of Kilbeg.

An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic. (Paranormal. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1394-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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