An emotionally mature YA thriller that gives hope to troubled teens.

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Olivia Decoded

From the Olivia Twisted series , Vol. 2

A newly adopted hacker becomes the target of a well-hidden stalker in this sequel.

It’s eight months after the graphic finale of Olivia Twisted (2013), and 17-year-old hacker Liv is now under the care of her wealthy grandfather Carlton Brownlow in Norfolk, Virginia. She’s trying to forget Jack, also known as Z, the fellow orphan and hacker she fell for while staying with the Monroe Street family. On the morning of Valentine’s Day, she wakes to find a white rose on her pillow and, later, a diamond bracelet in her car. She assumes her doting grandfather is responsible for both, but he denies it. Meanwhile, in Richmond, Jack lives with his hacking crew and their guardian, Nancy, at the Briarcreek House. Nancy institutes a no hacking rule so the teens can prepare for college and normal adult lives. Jack, however, has known hacking his whole life and refuses to trade ripping off banks and corporations for eventually working for them. When the Briarcreek emergency bank account is charged for expensive jewelry, Nancy suspects Jack. Hesitantly, Liv and Jack re-enter each other’s lives to find out who is stalking her and framing him. In the author’s second YA thriller, readers benefit once more from deft pacing and intricate plotting. The romance, which sees the protagonists drift fatefully back together, is emboldened by chapters that alternate between Jack’s and Liv’s perspectives. Lovely moments are frequent, like when he notices “the little line between her eyes creasing as she thinks...I remember kissing that crease.” A large cast—including Emerson, Liv’s best friend, and Frank Jones, a driver connected with the villainous Bill Sykes—helps Barnes (Paper or Plastic, 2015, etc.) sprinkle red herrings far and wide. Most impressive, though, is the growth these characters experience. Once bent on humiliating the rich father who abandoned him, Jack realizes that his “anger still boils under my skin, but it feels old, an ache that I can’t cure.” This likable pair of hackers deserves as many more outings as Barnes can conceive.

An emotionally mature YA thriller that gives hope to troubled teens.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63375-490-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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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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