A fast-paced sequel with a few killer twists.

FAKE PLASTIC WORLD

From the Fake Plastic Girl series , Vol. 2

The price of fame can be lethal in the edgy follow-up to 2019’s Fake Plastic Girl.

Sixteen-year-old Eva-Kate Kelly was stabbed only once with a ceremonial Wiccan dagger, and her body was found in the canal just outside her Venice, California, home. Unfortunately, Justine Childs’ fingerprints are all over the athame, and she’s arrested for murder. Justine’s parents hire a brilliant defense attorney, but while she’s awaiting trial, Justine decides to do a little investigating of her own, hoping to clear her name and desperate to know what really happened to Eva-Kate. There are more than a few people with motives for murder, but all Justine really learns is that Eva-Kate was hiding even more dark secrets than she suspected. For the assistant district attorney, Eva-Kate and Justine’s twisted tale of mutual obsession is the perfect storm, and the hard-drinking, pill-popping Justine’s history of mental illness works against her. Even worse, though she’s only 16, she’s to be tried as an adult. Eva-Kate had more fame than she could handle, and Justine desperately wanted just a bit of it for herself, but does that mean she was capable of murder? First-person narrator Justine, who steadily falls apart without Eva-Kate’s attention to sustain her, is the perfect vessel for Lisbon’s exploration of how tightly fame and infamy are entwined, and the courtroom scenes crackle with tension. Main characters are white by default.

A fast-paced sequel with a few killer twists. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-15631-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work.

14 WAYS TO DIE

A teen sleuth tries livestreaming to catch a murderer.

Seventeen-year-old Jessica Simmons lost her mother a decade ago, the first victim of the Magpie Man, a serial killer now on victim No. 13, who has struck in locations around the U.K. Her father’s life is still in shambles and her former friends are long gone, but Jessica’s decided to publicize her tragedy. One of five contestants on YouTube’s “The Eye”—an unscripted, livestreamed reality show—Jessica asks her viewers to help identify the serial killer. But inviting the world into her home and school brings unwanted attention, perhaps even from the Magpie Man, whose body count keeps climbing: Sleuthing-related drama and peril ensue. Jessica’s friends and family are economically rendered yet believable, and Ralph renders grief beautifully and devastatingly, as something that evolves but doesn’t end. As in the story, the bulk of the action occurs when the cameras aren’t rolling, and eventually, the reality show premise and its minimally developed contestants are more a distraction and transparent deus ex machina than an integral part of Jessica’s journey. More intriguing—and with real-life precedents—is the possibility of crowdsourcing a murder investigation. Although the fast-paced finale can’t quite overcome the slow start and overlong middle, the tale reaches a dramatic, satisfactory conclusion. Characters follow a White default.

An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work. (resources, author interview) (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72823-186-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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