A seafaring adventure with all the elements of a great puzzle but the solution.

SEIZE THE STORM

An ocean thriller brings a family clinging to lost affluence into the path of a drug warlord.

From the first page, readers know that a merciless drug warlord is involved, but the family party, on a last yachting jaunt from San Francisco to Honolulu, is caught up in in its own worries. Leonard and Claudette have been living the high life, but their daughter, Susannah, and her cousin, Martin, know that the money is gone. Deck hand Axel is eye candy but also an opportunist looking for a break. When their luxury boat, Athena’s Secret, crosses paths with the speedier Witch Grass, they find a fortune in cash, plus two dead guys: in other words, trouble. They commence a lackadaisical hunt for salvage that turns the voyage into more than a goodbye to a way of life—it could be a goodbye to life itself. Cadnum takes threatening weather, a shark, a lost dog and guns galore and turns them into a nightmare scenario. Then, unfortunately, he simply abandons the thriller formula as bad guys and demoralized family come face to face in an ending more whimper than bang. Psychological elements stemming from the relationships between those on the wrong and (supposedly) the right side of the law are introduced early on, but the author lets much of that simply fade.

A seafaring adventure with all the elements of a great puzzle but the solution. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: June 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-374-36705-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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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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Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers...

NEVER FALL DOWN

A harrowing tale of survival in the Killing Fields.

The childhood of Arn Chorn-Pond has been captured for young readers before, in Michelle Lord and Shino Arihara's picture book, A Song for Cambodia (2008). McCormick, known for issue-oriented realism, offers a fictionalized retelling of Chorn-Pond's youth for older readers. McCormick's version begins when the Khmer Rouge marches into 11-year-old Arn's Cambodian neighborhood and forces everyone into the country. Arn doesn't understand what the Khmer Rouge stands for; he only knows that over the next several years he and the other children shrink away on a handful of rice a day, while the corpses of adults pile ever higher in the mango grove. Arn does what he must to survive—and, wherever possible, to protect a small pocket of children and adults around him. Arn's chilling history pulls no punches, trusting its readers to cope with the reality of children forced to participate in murder, torture, sexual exploitation and genocide. This gut-wrenching tale is marred only by the author's choice to use broken English for both dialogue and description. Chorn-Pond, in real life, has spoken eloquently (and fluently) on the influence he's gained by learning English; this prose diminishes both his struggle and his story.

Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers will seek out the history themselves. (preface, author's note) (Historical fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-173093-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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