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

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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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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Bulky, balky, talky.

THE DA VINCI CODE

In an updated quest for the Holy Grail, the narrative pace remains stuck in slo-mo.

But is the Grail, in fact, holy? Turns out that’s a matter of perspective. If you’re a member of that most secret of clandestine societies, the Priory of Sion, you think yes. But if your heart belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, the Grail is more than just unholy, it’s downright subversive and terrifying. At least, so the story goes in this latest of Brown’s exhaustively researched, underimagined treatise-thrillers (Deception Point, 2001, etc.). When Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon—in Paris to deliver a lecture—has his sleep interrupted at two a.m., it’s to discover that the police suspect he’s a murderer, the victim none other than Jacques Saumière, esteemed curator of the Louvre. The evidence against Langdon could hardly be sketchier, but the cops feel huge pressure to make an arrest. And besides, they don’t particularly like Americans. Aided by the murdered man’s granddaughter, Langdon flees the flics to trudge the Grail-path along with pretty, persuasive Sophie, who’s driven by her own need to find answers. The game now afoot amounts to a scavenger hunt for the scholarly, clues supplied by the late curator, whose intent was to enlighten Sophie and bedevil her enemies. It’s not all that easy to identify these enemies. Are they emissaries from the Vatican, bent on foiling the Grail-seekers? From Opus Dei, the wayward, deeply conservative Catholic offshoot bent on foiling everybody? Or any one of a number of freelancers bent on a multifaceted array of private agendas? For that matter, what exactly is the Priory of Sion? What does it have to do with Leonardo? With Mary Magdalene? With (gulp) Walt Disney? By the time Sophie and Langdon reach home base, everything—well, at least more than enough—has been revealed.

Bulky, balky, talky.

Pub Date: March 18, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50420-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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