A concise, bold crime tale that, even in its darkest moments, shines with brilliance.

Lost Girls

In this thriller, a missing teen reappears with amnesia and uncovers a host of parlous secrets buried in her gradually returning memory.

When Californian Rachel Evans wakes up in a ditch, it’s been two weeks since she inexplicably disappeared. But Rachel can’t remember the last year of her life. She hardly recognizes herself, surprised by her Goth style and the fact that Dylan McCarthy, the guy she’s been crushing on for years, is apparently her boyfriend. Rachel attracts the attention of FBI agent Ryan Bennet, investigating missing girls who also vanished after school but, unlike Rachel, never came back. Filling in her memory gaps isn’t easy; Rachel gets intermittent flashes, but her so-called friends, including head cheerleader Lauren Maxwell, are reluctant to provide her with specifics. One thing’s for sure: her preference of handling a confrontation with her fists rather than talking it out feels like a fairly new trait. Rachel knows she’s onto something when she finds a list she’d generated of girls’ names and addresses, at least one from Bennet’s case. Following the lead will take Rachel into a seedy underground world that she’s slowly starting to remember. There are individuals, however, who want to keep this world hidden. They have already gone to great lengths—and will again—to ensure it stays that way. Destefano (Fathom, 2012, etc.) sets a near-perfect tempo for her narrative. Rather than saving a hefty twist for the end, she systematically reveals pieces of a mystery as the story progresses. It’s an apt teen drama as well, with the 17-year-old having to mend her friendship with Molly McFadden, whom Rachel, as far as she can tell, abandoned for the popular crowd. Rachel, though, is indelible, favoring commiseration over self-pity—sympathizing with younger brother Kyle’s pain for his then-missing sister. Readers will likely notice a passing resemblance to a well-known novel (divulging its title would be a spoiler), but Destefano doesn’t rehash the plot, opting to reinterpret it for a markedly different protagonist. The payoff isn’t quite as dynamic as its buildup, but the ending more than satisfies, allowing both the book to stand on its own and create potential for a continuation or spinoff.

A concise, bold crime tale that, even in its darkest moments, shines with brilliance.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63375-605-2

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.

THE STARS WE STEAL

For the second time in her life, Leo must choose between her family and true love.

Nineteen-year-old Princess Leonie Kolburg’s royal family is bankrupt. In order to salvage the fortune they accrued before humans fled the frozen Earth 170 years ago, Leonie’s father is forcing her to participate in the Valg Season, an elaborate set of matchmaking events held to facilitate the marriages of rich and royal teens. Leo grudgingly joins in even though she has other ideas: She’s invented a water filtration system that, if patented, could provide a steady income—that is if Leo’s calculating Aunt Freja, the Captain of the ship hosting the festivities, stops blocking her at every turn. Just as Leo is about to give up hope, her long-lost love, Elliot, suddenly appears onboard three years after Leo’s family forced her to break off their engagement. Donne (Brightly Burning, 2018) returns to space, this time examining the fascinatingly twisted world of the rich and famous. Leo and her peers are nuanced, deeply felt, and diverse in terms of sexuality but not race, which may be a function of the realities of wealth and power. The plot is fast paced although somewhat uneven: Most of the action resolves in the last quarter of the book, which makes the resolutions to drawn-out conflicts feel rushed.

A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing. (Science fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-94894-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

ADORKABLE

In O’Gorman’s YA debut, two best friends try to fool people into thinking that they’re in love—and then discover a new facet of their relationship.

Sally Spitz is a frizzy-haired 17-year-old girl with a charming zeal for three things: Harry Potter (she’s a Gryffindor), Star Wars, and getting into Duke University. During her senior year of high school, she goes on a slew of miserable dates, set up by her mother and her own second-best–friend–turned-matchmaker, Lillian Hooker. Sally refuses to admit to anyone that she’s actually head over Converses in love with her longtime best friend, a boy named Baldwin Eugene Charles Kent, aka “Becks.” After a particularly awkward date, Sally devises a plan to end Lillian’s matchmaking attempts; specifically, she plans to hire someone to act as her fake boyfriend, or “F.B.F.” But before Sally can put her plan into action, a rumor circulates that Sally and Becks are already dating. Becks agrees to act as Sally’s F.B.F. in exchange for a box of Goobers and Sally’s doing his calculus homework for a month. Later, as they hold hands in the hall and “practice” make-out sessions in Becks’ bedroom, their friendship heads into unfamiliar territory. Over the course of this novel, O’Gorman presents an inviting and enjoyable account of lifelong friendship transforming into young love. Though the author’s reliance on familiar tropes may be comforting to a casual reader, it may frustrate those who may be looking for a more substantial and less predictable plot. A number of ancillary characters lack very much complexity, and the story, overall, would have benefited from an added twist or two. Even so, however, this remains a largely engaging and often endearing debut. 

A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-759-7

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

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