CURSE

From the Blur series , Vol. 3

Wisconsin teen Daniel Byers continues to have strange visions in the conclusion to the trilogy that began with Blur (2014).

Daniel’s visions, or “blurs,” have helped him solve a few crimes, but that doesn’t mean he wants to make a career out of it. Daniel still hopes to get a basketball scholarship to college, and a prestigious basketball camp in Atlanta has offered him a free ride. Daniel and three of his friends head south to the camp, but it doesn’t take long for Daniel to get sidetracked by mysterious agencies that hope to recruit him for a specialized task force crewed by other teens with gifts. Periodic cutaways from Daniel’s story give readers glimpses of these shady maneuverings and then of Daniel’s friends’ efforts to reunite with him. Despite these attempts to raise suspense, plotting is dull and cumbersome, and characterization is slight. Conversations among Daniel and his friends drag out the proceedings. This is seemingly the final book in James’ trilogy, but it comes with none of the pomp and circumstance most finales have. Things just tidily end themselves, leaving readers with the most frustrating feeling of all: the feeling of wasted time.

Skip. (Paranormal thriller. 12-16) 

Pub Date: May 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5039-3345-3

Page Count: 434

Publisher: Skyscape

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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A slight, stilted take on a weighty issue. (Fiction. 12-16)

#NOTREADYTODIE

A school shooting changes dozens of lives.

Ginny is crouching under a desk in her homeroom, like the rest of her classmates. An unknown shooter attacked right after the start of school, wounding their substitute teacher and Ginny’s crush, Owen, and putting the school on lockdown. As the hours pass, the Canadian teens from a town outside Toronto, all apparently white, struggle to cope. The situation makes Ginny, a cutter who began self-harming after her father’s death, wish for a razor. But a new friend helps: Kayla, a cheerleader Ginny has always dismissed as a Barbie and who happens to have an uncanny amount of medical knowledge for a teenager who volunteers at a veterans’ hospital. Together, they work to keep their fellow students safe until they can be rescued—but will it be in time for the injured? While Ginny’s first-person narration and the Twitter posts at the end of each chapter help to build suspense, the plot digressions to Ginny’s dead gay uncle, her former best friend, and her stunned realization about a classmate’s sexuality dissipate that tension and undercut the seriousness. In addition, the clunky dialogue and short length do not allow the characters to feel like realistic teens. The treatment of sexual orientation in the portrayals of two gay teens, one whom girls try to “convert” while the other is outed by a gay peer, raises troubling questions.

A slight, stilted take on a weighty issue. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-988761-39-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Common Deer Press

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A draw for veterans and newcomers alike.

CONNECT THE SCOTTS

From the Dead Kid Detective Agency series , Vol. 4

October Schwartz and her five dead co-conspirators are back again to solve a double mystery tied to the unsavory history of Stickville, Ontario, in this fourth installment from Munday.

For this most recent round of resurrection, October and the dead kids plan to investigate the death of their own Tabetha Scott, a black girl who died a few years after her escape from slavery, and its possible connection to the sinister Asphodel Meadows society. The mystery only deepens when a furtive pair is seen making salt circles around children’s graves in the cemetery—circles the dead kids can’t pass through. As if her detective plate weren’t full enough, tensions skyrocket at school when $5,000 is stolen during the Band Warz competition, and the band accused of the crime asks October to clear their names. Munday’s narrative, mannered as ever with alternating narration and typeface changes, steers readers to consider systemic racism both as Tabetha slowly remembers her escape via the Underground Railroad and the discrimination she faced after arriving in Canada as well as the racist underpinnings of the frame job against the only nonwhite band at school arise. White guilt and angst over absolution—particularly October’s—is prioritized perhaps a touch too much, but a fairly elegant interweave of three mysteries that refuses to pull punches (historical or otherwise) regarding discrimination and with more than enough tantalizing intrigue and mortal danger to go around is enticing nonetheless.

A draw for veterans and newcomers alike. (Supernatural mystery. 12-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77041-333-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: ECW Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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