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LIARS, INC.

Captivating to the very end.

When Max's friend goes missing, he finds himself in the middle of an increasingly tangled web of lies and conspiracy.

Max's two best friends in the world are his girlfriend, Parvati, and a senator's son, Preston. The three share a gift for lying effectively, and when Preston asks Max to give him an alibi so he can go to Vegas, Max doesn't even blink. But when Preston doesn't return the next morning, Max suddenly becomes the prime person of interest. With Parvati's help, Max does his best to clear his name and discover Preston's true whereabouts. As the mystery unfolds, readers will be put on edge for two reasons: first, Stokes' superb knack for misdirection and intrigue, and second, Max's increasingly poor decisions. Whenever a fork in the road appears and Max must choose between cooperating with the police and making himself a guiltier target, he chooses the latter. This quality is frustrating but remarkably endearing. Max is so well-drawn it's hard not to be completely sympathetic to his predicament. As the ground beneath his feet falls away, Max uncovers bigger and stranger clues regarding Preston's fate, and the author twists and turns at all the right moments. Even the keenest mystery buffs will be hard-pressed to predict the book's finale, which packs quite the emotional and physical punch. 

Captivating to the very end. (Mystery. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-232328-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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THE LAKE

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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RADIO SILENCE

A smart, timely outing.

Two teens connect through a mysterious podcast in this sophomore effort by British author Oseman (Solitaire, 2015).

Frances Janvier is a 17-year-old British-Ethiopian head girl who is so driven to get into Cambridge that she mostly forgoes friendships for schoolwork. Her only self-indulgence is listening to and creating fan art for the podcast Universe City, “a…show about a suit-wearing student detective looking for a way to escape a sci-fi, monster-infested university.” Aled Last is a quiet white boy who identifies as “partly asexual.” When Frances discovers that Aled is the secret creator of Universe City, the two embark on a passionate, platonic relationship based on their joint love of pop culture. Their bond is complicated by Aled’s controlling mother and by Frances’ previous crush on Aled’s twin sister, Carys, who ran away last year and disappeared. When Aled’s identity is accidently leaked to the Universe City fandom, he severs his relationship with Frances, leaving her questioning her Cambridge goals and determined to win back his affection, no matter what the cost. Frances’ narration is keenly intelligent; she takes mordant pleasure in using an Indian friend’s ID to get into a club despite the fact they look nothing alike: “Gotta love white people.” Though the social-media–suffused plot occasionally lags, the main characters’ realistic relationship accurately depicts current issues of gender, race, and class.

A smart, timely outing. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-233571-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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