A taut thriller explores the evolving relationship between two outsider teens, at first defined by their shared...

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BURNING BLUE

Griffin fleshes out a gripping whodunit with a host of believable teen characters.

Nicole is wealthy, popular and beautiful right up until someone throws acid in her face in the corridor of her high school and just as quickly disappears. Classmate Jay, a talented hacker and perennial social outcast with partially controlled epilepsy, surprises himself by resolving to discover the perpetrator. Could it have been her boyfriend, Dave, who is hiding something and was the last person to be seen with her that day? Or did fellow outsider Angela, who joins forces with Jay, have an axe to grind? How about the school janitor, who keeps a big jug of acid in his office? Or even Nicole herself? Jay’s slightly edgy, self-deprecating voice matches perfectly with his determined and cleverly inquisitive investigative efforts. Readily mocked and dismissed by classmates because of his seizures, he makes a perfect sleuth. Observing others keenly, he remains apart from the drama right up until he falls for Nicole. His hacking activities are both amusing and also surprisingly gratifying. While readers will probably already have judged—and found wanting—the eventually exposed perpetrator, they will still be astonished by the person’s identity.

A taut thriller explores the evolving relationship between two outsider teens, at first defined by their shared defectiveness but later superseding it. (Mystery. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3815-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide To Murder series , Vol. 1

Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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