Though a few plot twists strain credulity, at its best this is a taut, suspenseful page-turner in which severed body parts,...

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USELESS BAY

On Whidbey Island, Washington, the Gray teens—tall, blond, white quintuplets—and one smart bloodhound specialize in search and rescue (missing toddlers, lost pets); this time, their neighbor and friend Grant Shepherd, 10, has disappeared, and complications ensue.

Money is tight for the quints and their single mom, year-round residents. Useless Bay is a weekend getaway for the wealthy, white Shepherds: Henry, Meredith, and their half brother, Grant, who live with their venture-capitalist dad, long divorced and remarried to Grant’s Russian mom. Henry Shepherd and Pixie Gray, who share a mutual attraction, narrate in alternating chapters. The youngest, shortest (at 6 feet 2 inches), and lone girl quint, Pixie’s long been haunted by the phantasm of the unsavory man, later murdered, who trained their bloodhound. This terrifying apparition (think Davy Jones of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise) heralds catastrophe. The desperate hunt coincides with stormy weather that worsens as the body count rises. Macabre descriptions abound; the Pacific Northwest’s majestic land- and seascapes are limned with occasionally startling digestive and elimination imagery: ferries and ocean tides vomit up their contents; Deception Pass’ swirling waters are compared to toilet-bowl cleaner.

Though a few plot twists strain credulity, at its best this is a taut, suspenseful page-turner in which severed body parts, human and canine, fantastic and real, figure prominently—call it magical realism, horror division. (Magical realism/thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2138-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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