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THE RUINOUS SWEEP

Suspenseful and complex, this will mesmerize readers patient enough to stick with it.

A teen boy with anger issues, critically injured in a car accident, is suspected of murdering his alcoholic father and staunchly defended by his high school girlfriend, Bee.

The first part of Wynne-Jones’ (Secret Agent Man Goes Shopping for Shoes, 2016, etc.) novel has a hallucinatory quality. Occasional chapters describe Bee’s vigil by Donovan’s bedside in the ICU, while the bulk of the text describes Dono’s travels through a nightmarish world fraught with violence and danger. A series of bizarre encounters and escapes keeps readers off-balance, unsure what details, if any, are real. In this section, similarities to Dante’s Inferno may or may not resonate with teen readers. A sharp break in the narrative occurs after a dramatic event and shifts the focus to Bee and the tone from horror-inflected to whodunit. Bee’s detecting efforts bear fruit, but her foolhardy risk-taking is clearly plot-driven and may frustrate some readers. Wynne-Jones’ writing is smooth and compelling, and certain images will likely linger in readers’ minds. However, most characters are adults, which may distance some teens, and the motivation for the murder is both decidedly adult and not entirely convincing. Some aspects of the first section never quite connect to the rest, while the enigmatic author’s note raises further questions. No racial diversity is apparent; class differences are implied.

Suspenseful and complex, this will mesmerize readers patient enough to stick with it. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9745-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

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Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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