BURY THE LEAD

An aspiring journalist investigates the urban legend surrounding mysterious disappearances of students at her school.

After losing out on an internship to fellow classmate Emma Morgan, high school senior Kennedy Carter looks for the next great exposé that will earn her the New England regional Excellence in Emerging Journalism Award. She dreams of getting out of her little Massachusetts town and becoming an investigative reporter. For their final project in journalism class, Kennedy and her best friend, school photographer Ravi Burman, decide to profile members of their school community and probe the curse haunting Maplefield High. Kennedy begins by researching students who disappeared in recent years—but everything takes a turn for the worse when Emma goes missing and is later found dead, supposedly by suicide. Certain that Emma was murdered, Kennedy and Ravi risk everything to uncover the truth behind the curse threatening Maplefield students, a truth which is contained in the anonymously authored side story, “The Making of a Monster,” that is interspersed throughout the novel. Kennedy’s self-righteousness is tempered by Ravi’s levelheaded understanding, but asexual Kennedy fears their budding romance could ruin years of friendship. This mystery in the vein of Holly Jackson's A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (2020) is well paced, but the resolution may strike readers knowledgeable about mystery conventions as not playing fair. Most characters are cued as White; pansexual Ravi’s mother is White, and his father is cued as a British immigrant of Indian descent.

Sufficiently thrilling. (Mystery. 13-17)

Pub Date: June 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64397-219-0

Page Count: 228

Publisher: BHC Press

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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An overall entertaining read.

THE PRETENDERS

From the Similars series , Vol. 2

In this sequel to The Similars (2018), tensions rise as the villains reveal a ploy to exact revenge on the Ten and their families and ultimately take over the world.

When Emma Chance returns to her elite boarding school, Darkwood Academy, for her senior year, things are different: Her best friend, Ollie Ward, is back while Levi Gravelle, Ollie’s clone and Emma’s love interest, has been imprisoned on Castor Island. More importantly, Emma is coming to terms with the contents of a letter from Gravelle which states that she is Eden, a Similar created to replace the original Emma, who died as a child. To complicate matters further, other clones—who are not Similars—infiltrate Darkwood, and Emma and her friends uncover a plot that threatens not only the lives of everyone they care about, but also the world as they know it. Hanover wastes no time delving right into the action; readers unfamiliar with the first book may get lost. This duology closer is largely predictable and often filled with loopholes, but the fast-paced narrative and one unexpected plot twist make for an engaging ride. As before, most of the primary characters read as white, and supporting characters remain underdeveloped. Despite its flaws and often implausible turns of events, the novel calls attention to larger questions of identity, selfhood, and what it means to be human.

An overall entertaining read. (Dystopia. 13-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6513-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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