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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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

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

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A suspenseful mystery diminished by outdated gender stereotypes.

THE MURDER GAME

A murder in a boarding school leads a teen sleuth down a dangerous path.

When Luke and his roommate, Oscar, snuck out of their dorm room after hours to hook up with two girls in the woods, they did not expect to get involved in a murder. Dean Heckler’s young wife’s body is found the morning after, near the place the teens were hanging out. Fear of being expelled prevents them from confessing their presence around the time of the murder—but when Oscar becomes a suspect, Luke starts his own investigation to prove his best friend’s innocence. Fortunately, three years earlier Luke had escaped a kidnapping using survival skills learned from his former–POW grandfather, the same skills he now needs if he wants to find the true murderer and get out of this situation alive. This whodunit has enough twists and red herrings to make for an intriguing mystery if readers are prepared to suspend disbelief at how frequently adult characters act with implausible negligence. The book is also weighed down by a haze of misogyny when describing both girls at the school as well as the murdered woman, who remains a vapid, one-note seductress throughout. Luke’s vague and perfunctory attempts at challenging his male friends in their sexist views are not enough to clear the chauvinist miasma. Main characters are White.

A suspenseful mystery diminished by outdated gender stereotypes. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-229-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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