Mara understands that she’s suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after having survived the collapse of a building...

THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER

From the Mara Dyer series

A girl tries to cope with her own survival after the deaths of her friends in this psychological—or is it paranormal?—debut suspense tale.

Mara understands that she’s suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after having survived the collapse of a building that killed her best friend, her boyfriend and his sister. To escape constant memories, the family moves from Rhode Island to Miami, and Mara enrolls in a pricey private school populated by spoiled rich kids. She falls for Noah, ultra-wealthy, British, handsome and perhaps untrustworthy girl-magnet. Her relationship with Noah comprises much of the story, even as Mara keeps seeing her dead friends in the mirror. Meanwhile, Mara tries to cope with a nasty student couple bent on destroying her and with a teacher who hates her for no discernible reason. Add to that her defense-lawyer father, who’s taken on the high-profile trial of the day and the book has one too many subplots, which, along with a bit too much description, leads to its excessive length. Hodkin writes strong prose that engages readers and creates some unusual, attractive characters. She designs an absorbing story that appears to be heading toward an interesting sequel. By the end, readers may be wondering if this is a psychological, paranormal or crime story, adding to the intrigue.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2176-9

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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Vivid, chilling, and important.

NONE SHALL SLEEP

Two 18-year-olds with traumatic pasts become entangled in a high-stakes manhunt for a serial killer targeting teenagers.

Emma Lewis isn’t your average psychology undergrad (and not just because she has a buzz cut). Two and a half years ago, she escaped a serial killer’s clutches and then helped the authorities apprehend him. Now a student at Ohio State, she’s been recruited for her unique qualifications by an agent in the FBI’s Behavioral Science department to spend the summer interviewing juvenile offenders. Alongside trainee Travis Bell, whose late father was killed while apprehending one of their subjects, Emma reluctantly ventures into the minds of teenage killers—and must confront her own past when one of the subjects offers unexpected insight into the motives of a new killer known as the Butcher. Set in the early 1980s, narrated in present tense, and told through Emma’s perspective as well as others’ (including the Butcher’s), the tightly plotted story moves inexorably forward with shocking twists alongside clear, applicable descriptions of the cognitive behavioral strategies Emma uses to navigate her PTSD. The narrative is critical of law enforcement work, emphasizing its psychological toll, and the '80s cultural references are handled with a light touch. Emma is white while Travis is cued as biracial (Mexican American and white); although most secondary characters appear white, two key figures are people of color.

Vivid, chilling, and important. (author's note) (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49783-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A dark and enthralling journey.

VESPERTINE

In a land threatened by violent spirits, a girl with a haunted past unleashes an ancient entity from a holy relic and strikes a deal for the power to save her home.

Ever since the Sorrow, the dead no longer pass on peacefully. Without the intervention of the Clerisy of the Gray Lady, they roam as destructive spirits. Artemisia of Naimes, gifted with the ability to see the spirits, never intends to leave her convent, where the walls protect her from possession and (Lady forbid) social interaction. Her plans crumble when a group of possessed soldiers attack her home. Reluctantly, Artemisia unseals a legendary relic, binding herself to a revenant, an undead being with immense power. Untrained in controlling spirits and desperate to protect her home, she bargains with the revenant to help her. Amid escalating danger and an unfolding mystery, Rogerson unveils a grim and intriguing world with a rich, plot-relevant history inspired by late-medieval France. In addition to the White protagonist, the narration describes several secondary characters with brown skin; the revenant is identified as “it,” while human characters in this world adhere to a gender binary. Artemisia experiences dynamic character growth as her understandings of trauma, history, and morality shift. Although she remains socially avoidant, she learns to value friendship. A satisfying but open-ended resolution demands for the story to continue.

A dark and enthralling journey. (glossary) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7711-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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