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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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

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SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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