With elements of gothic literature (and a few references to Wuthering Heights), this story could serve as a bridge to gothic...

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THE BOOK OF LIES

When identical twins tell each other lies, the result could be deadly.

Piper has led a posh life in Winchester, England, with loving parents, popularity in school, and boyfriend Zak (the only character of color) at her beck and call. Her identical twin, Quinn, was raised by their eccentric, fortuneteller grandmother in remote Dartmoor, never attended school, and only saw their mother, Isobel, sparingly. Because Isobel kept them separated, the 17-year-olds first meet at her funeral. Quinn wants to know all about the father she never had; Piper wants to know Quinn’s mysterious background. The twins’ mutual curiosity and suspicion instantly set a mood of intrigue in this thriller, which alternates their perspectives in short, first-person chapters. Reluctantly agreeing to work together to piece together their pasts, Piper and Quinn discover a bond forged through shared dreams of darkness, an inheritance, and a family curse. Readers must constantly guess who is manipulating whom as secrets and lies mount in an effort to claim the inheritance—by any means necessary. Murky bogs, stormy moors, haunted woods, and supernatural beings add to the intensity and sinister atmosphere.

With elements of gothic literature (and a few references to Wuthering Heights), this story could serve as a bridge to gothic classics. Thriller readers may simply enjoy the creepy mystery. (Thriller. 13-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-90048-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Only for readers who are really good at suspending disbelief.

H2O

Grab an umbrella: The latest fictional civilization-ending threat is deadly rain.

Ruby’s having the best night of her life, drunkenly making out with her crush in a hot tub at a party. Suddenly, the host’s parents arrive and, panicking, drag everyone indoors. The radio broadcasts an emergency message about fatal rain. Space bacteria have entered the atmosphere on an asteroid, replicated in the clouds’ moisture and now rain death upon humanity. Just humanity, though—inexplicably, this bacteria’s apparently harmless to plants and other animals. After struggling to live through the first few days—finding uncontaminated water sources is a particular challenge—Ruby decides to travel across the country to find her father. The situation’s horrifying, but what gives the deaths resonance is how sad they are, rather than simply scary (although they are plenty gory). Ruby’s narration is unsophisticated and, especially in the beginning, self-conscious, keeping readers from immersing themselves in the story, much as the strange butterfly graphic that censors curse words does. Additionally, Ruby’s progressively vapid characterization makes her hard to root for. Her biggest redeeming trait’s her love of animals. The novel also has the usual post-apocalyptic tropes—nerdy companion, military of dubious trustworthiness, human threats, a young child to take care of and so forth. The ending is immensely unsatisfying.

Only for readers who are really good at suspending disbelief. (Post-apocalyptic adventure. 14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4926-0654-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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A tightly plotted thriller helmed by a firecracker that never loses her spark.

NOT IF I SAVE YOU FIRST

Estranged best friends must come together to survive man-made threats in the harsh Alaskan wilderness.

Maddie and Logan, both white, were best friends at age 10. Maddie’s father’s job was to keep the president safe, and as the president’s son, that meant Logan too. But when Russians attempt an attack on Logan and the first lady, everything changes. Maddie’s father decides they must move somewhere with no phones, no internet, no access. Soon Maddie and Logan are thousands of miles apart, she in rural Alaska and he in the White House. For six years there’s no contact; Maddie spends two years writing to him with no response. She becomes skilled in the ways of the wilderness, her anger at Logan building. His perspective highlights a privileged, reckless life, leading the president to administer a unique punishment: staying with Maddie and her father in Alaska. But Logan brings dangerous baggage with him, and with her father away for the night, it’s up to Maddie to keep them both safe. Maddie’s grit, humor, and cleverness make her an engaging action hero. Logan’s less dynamic, hyperfocused on ensuring Maddie’s safety when she’s not the one who needs saving. Fans of survivalist fiction will be impressed by the well-researched, immersive Alaskan landscape and all its beauty and brutality.

A tightly plotted thriller helmed by a firecracker that never loses her spark. (Thriller. 14-17)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-13414-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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