Heavy-handed exposition, flat characters and trite dialogue don't elevate this outing past forgettable.



An unsatisfying blend of science fiction and Gossip Girl marks St. Claire's young adult debut.

Annie Nutter is so invisible no one notices or cares when their backpacks hit her in the face as they climb on the school bus. After her mother reveals that Annie's father could have been Jim Monroe, the billionaire owner of a chain of plastic-surgery clinics, Annie wonders if she'd trade her own father, an inventor with wacky ideas, for a different life. Predictably, one of her father's inventions sends Annie into another universe. Now Annie Nutter is Ayla Monroe: rich, beautiful and A-list. Ayla's friends are shallow shoplifters, and her hot boyfriend just wants sex; Jim Monroe is a mustache-twirling villain. Then Annie falls for Charlie Zelinsky, a genius who was homeless for a short time. The author tries to ground the creaky body-swap concept in real science: When Charlie learns and accepts Annie's story, he implausibly uses physics and long explanations to replicate her father's invention. Of course, this makes Annie question whether she should stay or go.

Heavy-handed exposition, flat characters and trite dialogue don't elevate this outing past forgettable. (Science fiction/chick-lit. 14-17)

Pub Date: July 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-74156-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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Yet another bland, half-baked dystopian exercise.


A teen girl goes looking for her missing twin sister.

In the absence of their parents, Cassie and Becca, both white, are doing their best to tend to the family farm. One morning, Cassie wakes up to discover Becca is missing. Meanwhile, Becca wakens in a horrific children’s prison, in which the detained are forced to fight to the death. As Cassie searches for her sister, Becca does her best to survive the torture her captors put her through. The novel is set in a future in which populations are organized geographically into isolated cells. The government controls all the information going in and out. More lurks beneath the surface, and the book sets up further installments, but few readers will feel the need to keep reading. The world is poorly built, the characters are dreadfully thin, and the plotting is drastically uneven. When Cassie and Becca are finally reunited, readers will have little reason to celebrate: their relationship is so thinly sketched they barely feel like sisters. The torture sequences in the teen prison are gratuitous and dreary. A last-minute twist is easily predicted, making the slow, tedious burn toward the reveal and the barely distinguishable characters all the more intolerable.

Yet another bland, half-baked dystopian exercise. (Dystopian adventure. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-43131-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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A lukewarm effort.


A small-town teen copes with the disappearance of her sister.

Rhylee has always felt inferior to her year-older sister, Abby. A cross-country star, Abby is beloved by everyone in their largely white, rural Ohio town and is dating Rhylee’s longtime friend and crush, their neighbor Tommy. When Abby sees Rhylee and Tommy kissing at a party, she runs off into the woods—and doesn’t come home. As days of searching turn into weeks, Tommy becomes a prime suspect, Rhylee’s feelings of guilt double—she’s convinced she’s at fault and that Tommy is innocent—and she is forced to contend with the notion that Abby may indeed have died. Yet those desperate for signs of Abby’s survival see them everywhere: a crop circle in the backyard (a prank or supernatural?), muddy footprints in a bedroom, movement in the woods. As searches turn into nightly community vigils in the family’s backyard, Rhylee struggles with invasions to her privacy and her grieving process as she learns to live with no closure. Alpine does a fair job of showing—albeit without subtlety—the challenges of coping with loss and uncertainty while in the public eye. However, the structural use of Abby’s disappearance as the impetus for Rhylee’s blandly predictable personal growth may disappoint both feminist readers and those looking for greater emotional depth.

A lukewarm effort. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8571-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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