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 enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

10 BLIND DATES

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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