A well-paced supernatural mystery that entertains but never quite explains.


From the Light as a Feather series , Vol. 1

“What about Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board? Have you guys ever played that?”

Grim fates were sealed the night the popular girls of Willow High gathered for Olivia Richmond’s 16th birthday sleepover. McKenna Brady, the story’s narrator, believes the creepy levitation game is nothing more than group hypnosis, but the mysterious newcomer to their school, Violet Simmons, unnerves the partygoers with a detailed story describing Olivia’s death as she returns from shoe shopping at the mall. McKenna has recently shed glasses, braces, and 20 pounds to discover a newfound “power of being pretty” after being bullied for her appearance. It was supposed to be a fabulous junior year, but while the girls get ready for the Fall Fling dance, Olivia heads out to the mall to find a perfect pair of shoes—and meets a gruesome death on her way home. Was it just a strange coincidence? Luckily, McKenna can turn to her handsome neighbor to hold her hand during the ghostly visitations she begins to experience and to figure out the mystery before tragedy strikes again. An irreverent mashup of mean, teen-queen comedy and supernatural ghost horror story, readers looking for light, spooky fun will enjoy the pace and romance, but others may find the characters superficially flat without any salvaging wit. Most characters are assumed white; some are indeterminate.

A well-paced supernatural mystery that entertains but never quite explains. (Horror. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4402-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.


Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice.


A teenage, not-so-lonely loner endures the wilds of high school in Austin, Texas.

Norris Kaplan, the protagonist of Philippe’s debut novel, is a hypersweaty, uber-snarky black, Haitian, French-Canadian pushing to survive life in his new school. His professor mom’s new tenure-track job transplants Norris mid–school year, and his biting wit and sarcasm are exposed through his cataloging of his new world in a field guide–style burn book. He’s greeted in his new life by an assortment of acquaintances, Liam, who is white and struggling with depression; Maddie, a self-sacrificing white cheerleader with a heart of gold; and Aarti, his Indian-American love interest who offers connection. Norris’ ego, fueled by his insecurities, often gets in the way of meaningful character development. The scenes showcasing his emotional growth are too brief and, despite foreshadowing, the climax falls flat because he still gets incredible personal access to people he’s hurt. A scene where Norris is confronted by his mother for getting drunk and belligerent with a white cop is diluted by his refusal or inability to grasp the severity of the situation and the resultant minor consequences. The humor is spot-on, as is the representation of the black diaspora; the opportunity for broader conversations about other topics is there, however, the uneven buildup of detailed, meaningful exchanges and the glibness of Norris’ voice detract.

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-282411-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?