A tightly constructed YA mystery.

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WE TOLD SIX LIES

In Scott’s (Hear the Wolves, 2017, etc.) YA thriller, a teenager investigates the disappearance of his girlfriend.

When 17-year-old Molly Bates goes missing, the police immediately identify her 18-year-old boyfriend, Cobain, as the primary suspect. He’s a quick-tempered, weight lifting loner who dresses all in black and has a tattoo of a crow on his arm—and he genuinely has no idea what happened to her: “Molly is gone,” he thinks, panicked, “and they’re in here talking to me when they should be combing the streets, the woods, the mountains.” Molly and Cobain had been planning on running away together, but she never showed up to their planned rendezvous. Now he needs to figure out what happened to the love of his life—not only to reunite with her, but also in order to clear his name. The problem is that Molly is still very mysterious to him; she knows how to read and manipulate other people, but she keeps her secrets to herself. As Cobain questions the other people in Molly’s life—her parents, her friends—he can’t help but wonder whether he’s being manipulated himself. The story effectively leaps between Cobain’s past and present, although after a certain point, Molly also becomes a third-person point-of-view character, adding further complexities to the plot. Scott’s controlled prose perfectly summons the dramatic pitch of teenage thought; for example, in this passage, Cobain remembers his thoughts on the day of his and Molly’s first meeting: “I may have hated you for smiling at me because it opened this horrendous hope inside of me, and it was impossible to push it back into place. It was a hernia, that hope. A rabid animal that needed trapping.” Indeed, at times such emotional excesses may make it difficult for adult readers to take the novel seriously. Despite this, though, the book is a true page-turner with an enjoyable, serpentine narrative.

A tightly constructed YA mystery.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-422-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2019

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Garrett’s failure to produce any sympathetic characters makes her debut tough going.

THE LAST TO DIE

Burglaries turn deadly for a group of spoiled teenagers.

Harper, Alex, Sarah, Paisley, Benji, and Gin come from similarly privileged homes. Their parents make up for a lack of commitment to their high school offspring by providing unfettered access to life’s material benefits: cars, clothes, and costly vacations. When getting drunk on booze filched from their folks’ well-stocked liquor cabinets palls, they invent an exciting new game. Each time one of the teens’ families goes skiing in Vail or snorkeling in the Bahamas, a designated member of the pack breaks into the unattended house and collects an assortment of trophies to be pawned for ready cash. The rules of the looting are strict. Only one member breaks into each house, nothing is to be stolen that can’t be replaced with insurance money, and nothing stolen from other members of the group. Harper adds one more rule: no stealing from her deaf sister, Maggie. After one full round of felonious fun, the wheels start to come off the crime spree. Sarah dies from a drug overdose. The police can’t decide if it’s an accident or suicide, but Harper is sure it’s neither. She thinks Sarah is too smart to overdose on her own and too conceited to kill herself. And since no one outside her little group exists for Harper, one of her fellow thieves must have killed her. Going to the authorities is a no-go because it would reveal the group’s role in the burglaries and spoil their chances of admission to an Ivy League college. So Harper and her chums sit around and wait to see if anything else bad happens. It does. Unfortunately, even Harper’s protectiveness toward her sister carries its own whiff of smugness.

Garrett’s failure to produce any sympathetic characters makes her debut tough going.

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-929345-30-4

Page Count: 206

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

ADORKABLE

In O’Gorman’s YA debut, two best friends try to fool people into thinking that they’re in love—and then discover a new facet of their relationship.

Sally Spitz is a frizzy-haired 17-year-old girl with a charming zeal for three things: Harry Potter (she’s a Gryffindor), Star Wars, and getting into Duke University. During her senior year of high school, she goes on a slew of miserable dates, set up by her mother and her own second-best–friend–turned-matchmaker, Lillian Hooker. Sally refuses to admit to anyone that she’s actually head over Converses in love with her longtime best friend, a boy named Baldwin Eugene Charles Kent, aka “Becks.” After a particularly awkward date, Sally devises a plan to end Lillian’s matchmaking attempts; specifically, she plans to hire someone to act as her fake boyfriend, or “F.B.F.” But before Sally can put her plan into action, a rumor circulates that Sally and Becks are already dating. Becks agrees to act as Sally’s F.B.F. in exchange for a box of Goobers and Sally’s doing his calculus homework for a month. Later, as they hold hands in the hall and “practice” make-out sessions in Becks’ bedroom, their friendship heads into unfamiliar territory. Over the course of this novel, O’Gorman presents an inviting and enjoyable account of lifelong friendship transforming into young love. Though the author’s reliance on familiar tropes may be comforting to a casual reader, it may frustrate those who may be looking for a more substantial and less predictable plot. A number of ancillary characters lack very much complexity, and the story, overall, would have benefited from an added twist or two. Even so, however, this remains a largely engaging and often endearing debut. 

A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-759-7

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

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