Too long, too many characters, too many subplots and far too many trendy ingredients stirred in just for effect.

THE EDGE OF THE WATER

From the Edge of Nowhere series , Vol. 2

Best-selling mystery writer George continues her series for teens set on Whidbey Island in Washington state with this mystery about an unusual seal connected to the Celtic selkie myth.

The first volume in the series, The Edge of Nowhere (2012), focused on Becca, a girl with the power to understand some of the thoughts of others around her. This story also includes Becca and her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Derric, but the main character this time is Jenn, a bitter 15-year-old from an impoverished, dysfunctional family. Jenn is just beginning to question her sexual orientation, but many are already convinced she is a lesbian, and she is the target of relentless homophobic bullying (that evidently goes without consequence). Jenn befriends a marine biologist named Annie who rents a trailer near Jenn’s home and employs Jenn as an assistant. Annie is bisexual, and she tries repeatedly and inappropriately but unsuccessfully to interest Jenn in exploring sex with her. Troublingly, the text does not seem to question the stereotypes it exploits, from the predatory gay adult to Jenn’s slight frame and short haircut; Jenn’s sexual questioning is not resolved. The actual mystery revolves around Jenn’s and Becca’s involvement with Annie and other adults in a long, complicated search for an unusual coal-black seal that returns to the island every year.

Too long, too many characters, too many subplots and far too many trendy ingredients stirred in just for effect. (Paranormal mystery. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-670-01297-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic.

ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS

An Irish teen grapples with past misdeeds and newfound ties to magic.

When 16-year-old Maeve discovers a deck of tarot cards stashed with a mixtape of moody indie music from 1990, she starts giving readings for her classmates at her all-girls private school. Though her shame over dumping her strange friend Lily during an attempt to climb the social ladder at St. Bernadette’s is still palpable, it doesn’t stop her from trying to use the tarot in her favor to further this goal. However, after speaking harsh words to Lily during a reading, Maeve is horrified when her former friend later disappears. As she struggles to understand the forces at play within her, classmate Fiona proves to be just the friend Maeve needs. Detailed, interesting characters carry this contemporary story of competing energy and curses. Woven delicately throughout are chillingly eerie depictions of the Housekeeper, a figure who shows up on an extra card in the deck, echoing the White Lady legend from Irish folklore. Even more disturbing is an organization of young people led by a homophobic but charismatic figurehead intent on provoking backlash against Ireland’s recent civil rights victories. Most characters are White; Fiona is biracial, with a Filipina mother and White Irish father. Roe, Maeve’s love interest and Lily’s sibling, is a bisexual, genderqueer person who is a target for intolerance in their small city of Kilbeg.

An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic. (Paranormal. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1394-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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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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