Katie Barton, a scholarship student at the exclusive Whitney Prep boarding school, harbors dark secrets that shattered her...

VERY BAD THINGS

At an exclusive, picture-perfect prep school, a grisly discovery leads to more sinister—and deadly—revelations.

Katie Barton, a scholarship student at the exclusive Whitney Prep boarding school, harbors dark secrets that shattered her home life. Her roommate, Tessa, also on a scholarship, is her best friend and closest confidante, with some disquieting secrets of her own. Much to Tessa’s chagrin, Katie has been dating privileged Mark Summers, a star athlete and son of the headmaster. However, one fateful day at her dorm, Katie receives a mysterious, tattered box. Inside, is a severed human hand with a rose tattoo. Soon after, Mark is indicted for the murder of the girl with the missing hand. Could he have done it? Or could Katie’s jealous roommate have been involved? The plot is driven by a cast of stereotypical prep school attendees, and the psychological observations of these characters feel boilerplate and wooden. Some of the more serious issues in this book—like date rape—are breezily glossed over to make room for the central mystery. The adults (including a school psychologist) behave questionably and unrealistically, presumably also to accommodate the plot. Most disappointingly, most readers will have started putting the pieces of this mystery together very early on, making for a lackluster reveal at the credibility-defying conclusion. While the pages may fly, the shortcomings are abundant in this overly ambitious offering. (Mystery. 13-16)

While the pages may fly, the shortcomings are abundant in this overly ambitious offering(Mystery. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-73797-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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An overall entertaining read.

THE PRETENDERS

From the Similars series , Vol. 2

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. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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