Hope and humor buoy tales of complicated relationships and old traumas in this fast-paced manhunt.

READ REVIEW

The Keeping

A family’s search for a missing teenage girl leads the police close to home while the victim is locked in a cellar with no way out in Ransom’s debut YA novel.

High school student Sierra Hart wakes up alone in a strange room and finds a cryptic note from an unseen captor with instructions for her to take care of herself with the supplies provided—including a bed, an exercise bike, and some canned goods—until she’s released. A suspicious group of friends and family members share what they know about Sierra in alternating chapters, as if a television news program is interviewing them—a promising hook for readers. There’s Sierra’s dad, a gambling addict with a criminal record; her mom, a loving but lonely doctor; and her ex-boyfriend, Dave, who hopes to win her back from his rival, Gavin, who recently transferred to her school. FBI agents don’t have much physical evidence, so they interrogate members of Sierra’s inner and outer circles in search of a motive. Their suspects are complex and very human characters—Sierra’s jailbird father, for example, has a charming side, and even her sensible mother seems to wilt in his absence. Dave, who’s swoon-worthy but hopelessly foolish, relies on members of his powerful family at the expense of his reputation. Fun-loving Gavin, like Sierra, has family secrets that he’d like to forget. Meanwhile, Sierra herself updates her journal from her holding cell to pass the time. Her efforts to entertain herself—creating tin foil dioramas, inventing new recipes for Cheerios and pasta shells—are a bright spot in the darkness that surrounds her. As she re-examines her relationships, Sierra wavers between her desire to trust others and her need to protect herself. Author Ransom offers touching moments, such as Sierra’s account of an accidental movie date with her mother, to show Sierra’s compassion and fortitude as she recounts the series of bad breaks and awkward situations that led to her kidnapping and—she hopes—her eventual rescue. This riveting novel shows that there’s more to Sierra’s seemingly idyllic teenage life than track meets, pool parties, and gossiping on the phone with her best friend—and when all is revealed, her reaction to her kidnapper is the biggest surprise of all.

Hope and humor buoy tales of complicated relationships and old traumas in this fast-paced manhunt.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 326

Publisher: Preadtend Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.

THE STARS WE STEAL

For the second time in her life, Leo must choose between her family and true love.

Nineteen-year-old Princess Leonie Kolburg’s royal family is bankrupt. In order to salvage the fortune they accrued before humans fled the frozen Earth 170 years ago, Leonie’s father is forcing her to participate in the Valg Season, an elaborate set of matchmaking events held to facilitate the marriages of rich and royal teens. Leo grudgingly joins in even though she has other ideas: She’s invented a water filtration system that, if patented, could provide a steady income—that is if Leo’s calculating Aunt Freja, the Captain of the ship hosting the festivities, stops blocking her at every turn. Just as Leo is about to give up hope, her long-lost love, Elliot, suddenly appears onboard three years after Leo’s family forced her to break off their engagement. Donne (Brightly Burning, 2018) returns to space, this time examining the fascinatingly twisted world of the rich and famous. Leo and her peers are nuanced, deeply felt, and diverse in terms of sexuality but not race, which may be a function of the realities of wealth and power. The plot is fast paced although somewhat uneven: Most of the action resolves in the last quarter of the book, which makes the resolutions to drawn-out conflicts feel rushed.

A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing. (Science fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-94894-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Garrett’s failure to produce any sympathetic characters makes her debut tough going.

THE LAST TO DIE

Burglaries turn deadly for a group of spoiled teenagers.

Harper, Alex, Sarah, Paisley, Benji, and Gin come from similarly privileged homes. Their parents make up for a lack of commitment to their high school offspring by providing unfettered access to life’s material benefits: cars, clothes, and costly vacations. When getting drunk on booze filched from their folks’ well-stocked liquor cabinets palls, they invent an exciting new game. Each time one of the teens’ families goes skiing in Vail or snorkeling in the Bahamas, a designated member of the pack breaks into the unattended house and collects an assortment of trophies to be pawned for ready cash. The rules of the looting are strict. Only one member breaks into each house, nothing is to be stolen that can’t be replaced with insurance money, and nothing stolen from other members of the group. Harper adds one more rule: no stealing from her deaf sister, Maggie. After one full round of felonious fun, the wheels start to come off the crime spree. Sarah dies from a drug overdose. The police can’t decide if it’s an accident or suicide, but Harper is sure it’s neither. She thinks Sarah is too smart to overdose on her own and too conceited to kill herself. And since no one outside her little group exists for Harper, one of her fellow thieves must have killed her. Going to the authorities is a no-go because it would reveal the group’s role in the burglaries and spoil their chances of admission to an Ivy League college. So Harper and her chums sit around and wait to see if anything else bad happens. It does. Unfortunately, even Harper’s protectiveness toward her sister carries its own whiff of smugness.

Garrett’s failure to produce any sympathetic characters makes her debut tough going.

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-929345-30-4

Page Count: 206

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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