EVIL ENCOUNTER

After her parents' divorce, Michelle and her mother, Sandra, move from Philadelphia to the Los Angeles area. Michelle is miserable, blaming her mother for the divorce without confronting her about it, hating her new school, and watching her grades drop. Sandra signs Michelle up for group encounter sessions run by the handsome, charming, fortyish Luke. Immediately Michelle begins to heal, believing that Luke understands her, that he sees into her soul and accepts her even as he begins to uncover her weaknesses. She also feels herself falling in love with him, but rejects his advances during an encounter weekend at a desert spa. When Luke is murdered and Sandra is arrested as the killer, Michelle calls on her new resources to solve the crime. Levitin (Adam's War, 1994, etc.) starts out with a good premise that begins to unravel when Luke enters the scene. His pycho-babble won't get far with mystery fans, who also have to tolerate manipulative character development, sloppy melodrama, and preposterous plot twists. There are minor missteps that will drive careful readers crazy, e.g., Michelle's hair gets frizzy in the ``dry desert air.'' It all requires more suspension of disbelief than most of Levitin's fans will be willing to muster. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: June 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80216-1

Page Count: 249

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1996

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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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This fast-paced thriller will keep readers guessing.

THE FEAR

This perspective-jumping thriller shows you the two sides of fear.

Izzy has had a crush on Justin forever, but in her last year at Rock Bay High, will she be able to finally talk to him, or will the sudden violent death of a classmate put a wrench in the situation? After a meme daring everyone to repost how they are most afraid to die races through the teenage population, a student appears to have been killed exactly in the way she had feared. Izzy must race against time to find the killer, and with no shortage of suspects, everyone is under suspicion: her loner lab partner, Axel; his older cousin, Tristan; and even Justin, who has been acting strange. It becomes clear no one is safe from experiencing fear. This swift-moving slasher adventure proves to be a page-turning mystery. The book is written in the first-person perspective, allowing readers a deeper view into Izzy’s mind; whether she is thinking Axel is innocent or the killer, her stream of thought and persistent questioning give readers clues to help connect the dots before surprising them with clever plot twists at the end. Main characters read as White; there is racial diversity in the supporting cast.

This fast-paced thriller will keep readers guessing. (Thriller. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-12501-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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