A high school senior camping trip turns into a survival nightmare when the group is targeted by a violent stalker.
Separated by a flooding river, the participants’ initial plan is to camp overnight and reunite the following morning. But when Lebanese-American narrator Sera, “white trash” Lucas, black Jude, and Asian-American Emily wake up, they discover they’ve been drugged. Overnight their equipment, including an emergency GPS, was destroyed, and their teacher seems to be suffering from an overdose. More disturbingly, each student’s wrist has a Sharpie-drawn label: “Darling,” “Dangerous,” “Deceptive,” and “Damaged,” respectively. The situation exacerbates pre-existing tensions, and members immediately suspect one another. However, the gruesome discovery that the teacher and students on the other side of the river have likely been murdered brings a fragile unity to Sera’s group—motivating their attempted hike to safety. Complicating matters is Sera’s conflict about her attraction to Lucas, the classically misunderstood bad boy—a storyline that conveniently proves there’s always time for romance. Meanwhile, the killer plays cat and mouse with the teens, leading them off-course with traps and feeding them misinformation, effectively amping up the tension. The premise is exciting and the pacing effective, but the novel is unfortunately light on details of how the villain could have actually planned and executed the whole situation.
Full of drama and suspicion for readers who can get past its credibility problem. (Thriller. 14-18)