Chloe calls herself “the last slacker standing” but figures she’ll have all senior year to repair her tattered GPA. Instead, she wakes up to find six months have passed in which her world has changed beyond recognition—including herself.
She’s ratcheted up her GPA and achieved stratospheric SAT scores, thanks to the study group she can’t remember participating in. She’s shaken by the charged attraction she feels toward bad boy Adam, who shows up moments after she awakens in response to a call she doesn’t remember making. Meanwhile, her feelings for Blake Tanner—gorgeous, sought-after and evidently now her boyfriend—have morphed from infatuation to fear. For the first time ever, Chloe’s popular—but her best friend, Maggie, won’t speak to her. Like Chloe’s parents, the therapist she’s been seeing for her panic attacks seems confused by Chloe’s lack of enthusiasm for Blake and indifference to her stellar grades. The flashes of memory Chloe experiences with Adam are more troubling than confusing, but his warm presence is all she’s got. Richards’ use of the present tense is enormously effective here, one of the few novels in which suspense actively relies on readers’ immersion in the now.
As tension rises among these sharply observed characters, this smart, edgy thriller taps into the college-angst zeitgeist, where the price of high achievement might just be your soul. (Suspense. 13 & up)