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THE VOICE INSIDE MY HEAD

A satisfying mystery peopled with characters readers will be happy they’ve come to know.

This absorbing mystery might or might not be paranormal, but it’s certainly constantly interesting.

Seventeen-year-old Luke travels to a small island off the coast of Honduras in an effort to find his older sister, Pat, who has been reported dead. Pat had traveled to the island to pursue her interest in marine biology, working as an intern at a shark research center before disappearing. Luke remains certain that she’s alive, and he’s determined to find her. He forms alliances and rivalries with some of the local population, including stoner Zach and the volatile islander girl Reesie. Luke has conversations with Pat in his head—he’s sure he hears her voice, which he feels proves she’s still alive. Laidlaw leaves readers to decide whether Luke really hears this voice and what it might mean if he does, slowly unfolding her mystery. Luke comes across as a fully realized character, but the colorful locals and American expatriates also stand out as individuals. It’s these characterizations that contain the clues, ably supporting the mystery plot. Luke’s quest, his feelings for Reesie and his growing understanding of his sister propel readers through the story.

A satisfying mystery peopled with characters readers will be happy they’ve come to know. (Mystery. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-77049-565-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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THE DARE

Unlikely to gain the author any new readers but will appeal to her fans.

Marley, who’s on the cusp of graduating from high school, looks forward to going to college in California, but first, she must endure senior prank week.

What began as a harmless tradition to annoy the hapless school principal has evolved into a more serious series of pranks and dares orchestrated by the five Wilder brothers: Everett, Emmett, Rhett, Garrett, and Truett. Rhett, who’s Marley’s former friend, is leading this year’s pranks and imposing severe consequences on non-participants. When their dare results in tragedy for a group of friends—Marley, Luce, Jesse, and Atlas (Marley’s boyfriend)—they make a pact to keep what happened a secret. Marley continues to be wracked with self-reproach, however, and paranoia and guilt begin to tear the teens’ friendships apart. It’s crucial for readers to approach the book with suspension of disbelief, because the characters sometimes act without clear motivation and at other times seem to understand who’s responsible for events based on very flimsy evidence. The dialogue also becomes repetitive at points. While this may not be Preston’s strongest work, her dedicated followers will find in it the suspenseful approach they love. Luce is cued Latine; Atlas reads Black, and the rest of the characters present white.

Unlikely to gain the author any new readers but will appeal to her fans. (Thriller. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780593704066

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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