RETRO

A disappointing, unfulfilling journey with forgettable characters.

A no-technology challenge in a small Northern California town turns sinister.

After Samantha shoplifts but lets her friend Luna take the fall for her crime, Luna is rightfully enraged—and not least because her mother, a Spanish immigrant, is at risk of losing her visa to remain in the U.S., making any sort of criminal activity especially harmful. Luna uploads a video of a drunk Samantha bad-mouthing her friends and other classmates to Limbo, the social media app everyone’s obsessed with. Even though she has regrets and deletes it shortly after, she isn’t fast enough, and the video goes viral. The harsh response results in Samantha’s attempting to take her own life. The fact that she survives alleviates some of Luna’s guilt, but she still sends a private message to the app developers, explaining her role in what happened and asking for their help as she seeks accountability. Much to everyone’s surprise, the Limbo CEO comes to their school and proposes a challenge: Any student who manages to go the entire school year without using technology, including their phones, will receive a full-ride scholarship to college. As the year progresses, however, some of Luna’s friends disappear and the real nature of #RetroChallenge becomes clear. Though the fast pace will appeal to reluctant readers, it comes at the expense of character development and relationship-building, making it hard to feel attached to any of them. The stilted dialogue poses another obstacle.

A disappointing, unfulfilling journey with forgettable characters. (Thriller. 13-17)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-66590-275-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022

THIS IS OUR STORY

Chilling and suspenseful, with just the right number of twists.

If your friend’s dead body falls in the woods and nobody is around to see which of you pulled the trigger, what will your story be?

In an after-party haze of booze and drugs, five white, wealthy best friends go hunting in the River Point woods—only four return. With one of the boys, Grant, shot dead in an apparent accident and no one willing to admit responsibility, Logan, Henry, John Michael, and Shep vow to keep silent in order to protect their remaining group and the killer among them. But secrets have a way of burrowing through bonds, and the tightknit foursome, dubbed the River Point Boys, has already started to unravel. Meanwhile, budding photojournalist and white senior Kate Marino is interning at the district attorney’s office, where her boss is assigned the River Point case. The DA wants the case to disappear quietly, but Kate is determined see justice done. As she assists with examining the boys’ behavior during interrogations and in person, she discovers that nothing about the case, the suspects, or even her own connection to the boys is what it seems. The narration alternates between Kate’s fervent suspicions and a River Point Boy’s cold manipulation, leaving readers to wade through the many vengeful motives that spill from a wellspring of affluence, privilege, and corruption.

Chilling and suspenseful, with just the right number of twists. (Mystery. 13-17)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3089-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

THE PRETENDERS

From the Similars series , Vol. 2

An overall entertaining read.

In this sequel to The Similars (2018), tensions rise as the villains reveal a ploy to exact revenge on the Ten and their families and ultimately take over the world.

When Emma Chance returns to her elite boarding school, Darkwood Academy, for her senior year, things are different: Her best friend, Ollie Ward, is back while Levi Gravelle, Ollie’s clone and Emma’s love interest, has been imprisoned on Castor Island. More importantly, Emma is coming to terms with the contents of a letter from Gravelle which states that she is Eden, a Similar created to replace the original Emma, who died as a child. To complicate matters further, other clones—who are not Similars—infiltrate Darkwood, and Emma and her friends uncover a plot that threatens not only the lives of everyone they care about, but also the world as they know it. Hanover wastes no time delving right into the action; readers unfamiliar with the first book may get lost. This duology closer is largely predictable and often filled with loopholes, but the fast-paced narrative and one unexpected plot twist make for an engaging ride. As before, most of the primary characters read as white, and supporting characters remain underdeveloped. Despite its flaws and often implausible turns of events, the novel calls attention to larger questions of identity, selfhood, and what it means to be human.

An overall entertaining read. (Dystopia. 13-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6513-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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