Without dropping a beat, the story ends in a crescendo of danger and turmoil and paves the way for the vigilante teen to...

THE GIRL ON THE RUN

Bestselling true-crime writer Olsen takes a successful stab at thriller writing for teens.

Ever since 15- (or maybe 16-) year-old Rylee (that’s her name this time around) can remember, she’s been on the run with her mother, stepfather, and younger brother, Hayden. They change towns, aliases, schools, and appearances every time her mother’s stalker catches up to them. When they find their mother missing and their stepfather murdered, Rylee and Hayden must flee on their own—and rescue her mother before the stalker carries out his final plan. Groomed by her years of lying, Rylee is well-equipped to go undercover, but she’s not prepared emotionally when she discovers the true identity of her mother’s stalker and his connection to murdered teen girls in the past. The tension in the taut, first-person narrative ratchets even higher when Rylee’s research uncovers not only that this villain is a serial killer, but that all of his victims only survived one week of his torture. She has only days to save her mother—and possibly even herself. And as she searches for clues about her mother’s disappearance, she uncovers her own life, too.

Without dropping a beat, the story ends in a crescendo of danger and turmoil and paves the way for the vigilante teen to take on more criminals in subsequent books. (Thriller. 14 & up)

Pub Date: March 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-940610-69-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Polis Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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A deftly layered sports thriller populated with fierce girls.

THEY'LL NEVER CATCH US

Edgewater is famous for two things: the unsolved murders of three teen cross-country runners 10 years ago and the events of the previous summer when Stella Steckler did something unforgivable to a competitor.

Cross-country runners and sisters Stella and Ellie are brutal, tender—and out for blood when it comes to one another. Stella is focused on running as her ticket out of town and into college on a sports scholarship; her similarly gifted younger sister is slowly making her way into the top spot on their high school team. When newcomer Mila Keene joins the team, the sisters become entangled in a complex and ambivalent dynamic with her. When Mila goes missing while out on a run, it throws the sisters, their team, and the whole town into upheaval. Alternating first-person perspectives between Stella and Ellie, this thriller lays out two primary narratives—that of Mila’s heartbreaking case and the relationship between Stella and Ellie—and expertly layers them with a cold-case murder mystery and an exhilarating sports tale. This novel is also a thoughtful examination of socio-economic challenges, the impact of crushing personal secrets, and the ways female athletes suffer under the weight of misogyny, especially when they are aggressively competitive. Most characters read as White; the Steckler family is Jewish, and Stella is queer. Naomi, Mila’s best friend, is Korean American and lesbian.

A deftly layered sports thriller populated with fierce girls. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11432-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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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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