Readers’ credulity seems to be the required element to enjoy this messed-up mystery.

THE GIRL IN THE PICTURE

A murder mystery with a paranormal twist.

Unfortunately, the paranormal twist does not serve the mystery plot well. White prep school scholarship student Nicole Morgan is a magnificent violinist but socially inept, so she’s surprised when the handsome, white, and wealthy Chace Porter seems to be attracted to her. But Chace has a girlfriend, beautiful and wealthy bronze-skinned Lana Rivera, Nicole’s roommate, who claimed him when he arrived on campus. Nicole and Chace meet secretly, however, intending eventually to confess to Lana, but before they can, Chace is found murdered. Nicole becomes the chief suspect when the police find a photo strip of the two of them on Chace’s body; later, the murder weapon is found planted in Nicole’s room. Can Nicole prove her innocence? Moving her narrative back and forth through time and different characters’ perspectives, Monir hits every possible convention: the posh prep school; the talented, innocent scholarship student; the wealthy, powerful, and, of course, modelworthy appearances of most characters; the forbidden romance; the overwrought writing. When she suddenly throws a completely unexpected paranormal element into the story, she departs from the basic mystery/suspense plot and seems to be writing another genre altogether.

Readers’ credulity seems to be the required element to enjoy this messed-up mystery. (Mystery. 12-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-74390-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist.

LOCK THE DOORS

A blended family seeks a fresh start in a new home.

Tom’s mother believes that the family may have finally found happiness. After years of dating losers, she’s finally settled down with a nice guy—and that nice guy, Jay, happens to have a daughter, Nia, who is just a little older than Tom. The new family has moved into a nice new house, but Tom can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong. They discover a strange message written on the wall when they are stripping the old wallpaper, and there’s clear evidence that the previous owners had installed locks on the exteriors of the bedroom doors. Those previous owners happen to live a little farther down the street, and Tom quickly becomes obsessed with their teenage daughter, Amy, and the secrets she’s hiding. This obsession unfortunately becomes a repetitive slog involving many pages of Tom’s brooding and sulking over the same bits of information while everyone tells him to move on. Readers will be on everyone’s side. But then, a blessed breath of fresh air: The perspective shifts to Amy, and readers learn in spectacularly propulsive fashion exactly what she’s hiding. Regret and intrigue blend perfectly as Amy divulges her secrets. Alas, we return to navel-gazing Tom for the book’s final pages, and everything ends with a shrug. Main characters default to White.

A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72823-189-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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