Worth it to get fans from here to there; not of much interest as a stand-alone.

DON'T LOOK NOW

From the Don't Turn Around series , Vol. 2

Hackers Noa and Peter step up their undercover battles against pharmaceutical giant Pike & Dolan as danger escalates for them both (Don’t Turn Around, 2012).

Pike & Dolan continue Project Persephone, their secret and deadly research ostensibly to end the PEMA epidemic striking teens across the country, despite having one of their labs exposed to the authorities by the teens. Peter has stayed with his parents in Boston even after discovering their involvement with P&D, while Noa has joined the Southwest-based Persefone’s Army, made up of freed subjects of P&D’s labs working to liberate others before they’re killed. Peter helps Noa via a secret chat group online while worrying that his ex-girlfriend Amanda might have contracted the always-fatal PEMA. Noa deals with internal problems within the army as she plans their next mission. In an attempt to find the new servers for P&D’s main computers, Peter increases his surveillance of Mason, a ruthless P&D agent, only to be drawn into Mason’s plotting; meanwhile, Noa grows suspicious of new recruits to her cause. Gagnon’s second in the Don’t Turn Around trilogy inches the tale forward with a few thrills concentrated at the volume’s close, but she spends far too much time examining from every side the various love triangles and quadrangles among its characters. Here’s hoping the finale will be a return to the thrills and surprises of the first installment and not more love among the hackers.

Worth it to get fans from here to there; not of much interest as a stand-alone. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210293-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2013

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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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Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun.

STARSIGHT

From the Skyward series , Vol. 2

As if the threat of huge, raging monsters from hyperspace isn’t scary enough, hotshot fighter pilot Spensa Nightshade becomes embroiled in an alien empire’s politics.

On a desperate mission to steal hyperdrive technology from the crablike invading Krell who are threatening to destroy her beleaguered home colony on Detritus, Spensa, who is white, holographically disguises herself as a violet-skinned UrDail and slips into a Krell pilot training program for “lesser species.” The discovery that she’s being secretly trained not to fight planet-destroying delvers but to exterminate humans, who are (with some justification, having kindled three interstellar wars in past centuries) regarded in certain quarters as an irrationally aggressive species, is just one in a string of revelations as, in between numerous near-death experiences on practice flights, she struggles to understand both her own eerie abilities and the strange multispecies society in which she finds herself. There are so many characters besides Spensa searching for self-identity—notably her comic-relief sidekick AI M-Bot, troubled human friend Jorgen back on Detritus, and Morriumur, member of a species whose color-marked sexes create trial offspring—that even with a plot that defaults to hot action and escalating intrigue the pacing has a stop and start quality. Still, Spensa’s habitual over-the-top recklessness adds a rousing spark, and the author folds in plenty of banter as well as a colorful supporting cast.

Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55581-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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