July reading round-up

  • # of books read: 15
  • audiobooks listened to: 3
  • graphic novels read: 2
  • total page count: 4,402
  • year total page count: 28,874

This was a crazy month, and despite having a week of vacation, it wasn’t exactly *restful* vacation.  Plus with all the running around for the summer reading program at my library, and planning for the trip, I didn’t get as much reading in as I would have liked.

Chapter one… #empireofstorms #sarahjmaas #currentlyreading #bookstagram

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After waiting for what seemed like forever for the ebook of Empire of Storms to come in, I broke down and checked out the physical book.  I hadn’t realized how small the font is in these books – it made me feel old!  The book design, however, is quite nice (as you can see from the chapter headings, above).  But I still read it in under 2 weeks.  I felt a bit like this world is becoming too unwieldy and I enjoyed many of the side characters’ stories more than Aelin’s, but I’m still looking forward to the next book in the series.  Maybe now I can move on and read A Court of Thorns and Roses

I ❤️vintage YA #bookstagram #ninetieskids #ilovethenineties

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I read a bunch of vintage YA this month, largely thanks to a visit to the infamous Book Barn in Niantic, CT.  First up was After the First Death by Robert Cormier, which was just as dark as any of his others I’ve read.  The plot sounded similiar to Ransom (aka Five Were Missing) by Lois Duncan – children on a school bus held captive.  In this case, however, the ransomers were Middle Eastern terrorists who were ready to kill all the children to make a political statement if their demands were not met.

In a stroke of luck I found the entire Forbidden Game trilogy by L.J. Smith.  Look at those amazing neon covers!  The fast pace of the books brought me right back to my teen years.  I read a few reviews of Caraval that compared it to The Forbidden Game, but so far I’m not seeing too much by way of similarities aside from a character named Julian and the fact that they are playing a game.

One book I managed to read during one flight was The Lie by C.L. Taylor.  The description on the back was vague enough – four friends go on what promises to be an amazing trip and turns into a nightmare – that I had no idea what was in store.  Didn’t expect any of it!  This is a great thriller for anyone who liked Girl on the Train or In a Dark, Dark Wood (in other words, you kinda wanted to slap the narrator, but also you wanted to race to the end).

In bookish news, I visited the Trinity College Library on my trip to Ireland and it was just as amazing as I dreamed it would be.

I listened to a bunch of audiobooks this month.  One was The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and it was amazing, highly recommended! (I’ve been waiting months for the audio of this!).  The other two were duds I downloaded via AudiobookSYNC.  Beast by Donna Jo Napoli was another Beauty and the Beast remix and it was strange, to say the least (do I need to imagine the Beast as a lion, sniffing after the female lions?  Not really).  The other was Remember to Forget by Ashley Royer, a Wattpad fanfiction novel.  The premise was interesting but overall it was a bit boring.

I thought maybe I’d add a little superlatives list for my round-ups, so here goes…

  • Best Overall: The Hate U Give
  • Worst Overall: The Beast
  • Fastest Read: The Lie (under 6 hours)
  • Slowest Read: Empire of Storms (12 days)
  • Best Audio: The Hate U Give
  • Best Illustrations: Olympos

The full list:

  1. I Am a Hero book 1 by Kengo Hanazawa (graphic novel)
  2. Beast by Donna Jo Napoli (audiobook)
  3. After the First Death by Robert Cormier
  4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (audiobook)
  5. Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas
  6. Remember to Forget by Ashley Royer (audiobook)
  7. Olympos by Aki (graphic novel)
  8. Sextrap Dungeon by Kurt Knox
  9. The Hunter (The Forbidden Game #1) by L.J. Smith
  10. The Ghost Files by Apryl Baker
  11. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  12. The Lie by C.L. Taylor
  13. The Chase (The Forbidden Game #2) by L.J. Smith
  14. The Kill (The Forbidden Game #3) by L.J. Smith
  15. An Illustrated History of Notable Shadowhunters and Denizens of Downworld by Cassandra Clare, illustrated by Cassandra Jean

May reading round-up

  • # of books read: 21
  • audiobooks listened to: 5
  • ARCs read: 1
  • total page count: 4,538
  • year total page count: 20,077
I managed to get tons of reading done this month!  My favorite reads of the month were Bang by Barry Lyga (about a boy who shot and killed his younger sister when he was a toddler), Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty (a murder mystery set in space and involving clones), and Ten Count v. 1 (a manga that warmed my little yaoi heart).

I got through the top four books in this stack.  I enjoyed House quite a bit, though it was somehow completely different than I imagined.  Dissected was also pretty good!  I thought I would like The Last Final Girl and Tape better than I did, but hey – you can’t like everything.   All of these were super quick reads.  I got House and Tape via Thriftbooks (along with most of the others in this stack!) and the others I got at the library book sale.  Last year I only found one book at the book sale, so I was quite pleased with the selection this year.

The Revenge of Analog was an interesting look at how people, after several decades of movement toward a digital world, are gravitating toward the analog.  Whether it’s music on vinyl, film cameras, or simply handmade goods, I have seen this trend emerging both for myself (I own a typewriter again!) and among others of my generation.  Sure, it’s convenient to be able to load up my Nook for a trip, but sometimes it’s easier (simpler, and easier on the eyes!) to read a physical book.  I was thinking this was more of a hipster trend, but honestly I’m seeing this everywhere.

A nice day for beach reading #beachreads #sixwakes #bookstagram #murlafferty

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I’m not a big fan of sci-fi, but the horror elements of Six Wakes (“Six crew. One ship. One killer.”) intrigued me when this appeared at the library.  I also really liked the cover, because sometimes that’s how I judge books!  I had the opportunity to read One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus as an ARC, and I enjoyed that murder mystery just as much.  Maybe I like murder mysteries now?

Because the weather has been far cooler than usual for May, I’ve been listening to audiobooks like mad (normally, I’d have my car window rolled down, which makes it hard to listen to an audiobook while driving).  My favorite audio of the month was definitely The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.  It was a quirky kind of love story that takes place over the course of a day.  The alternating voices reminded me a little of Eleanor and Park – also the focus on music as a thing that brings the two together.  I also enjoyed Anna Kendrick’s memoir, Scrappy Little Nobody.

Three nonfiction books this month, WHAT?  I’ve had this on request for a while and it came in for me just as I was heading up to Acadia, Maine for the weekend.  It could not have been more perfect timing.  The Stranger in the Woods is the story of a man who lived alone and unnoticed in the Maine wilderness for TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS.  As the author of the book pointed out, most people don’t go more than a few hours without speaking to another human being.  Even me.  I enjoy my time alone, but I also have the outlet of talking to people via the internet, even if I don’t leave the house at all, which is rare.  Usually I at least go to the gym or grocery shopping.  So while it sounds lovely to be alone for so long, I’m sure not even I could do it.

The complete list!  (links take you to my Goodreads reviews)

  1. The House by Christina Lauren
  2. Day 21 (The 100 #2) by Kass Morgan (audiobook)
  3. I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid (ebook)
  4. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
  5. The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax
  6. Dissected by Megan Bostic
  7. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (audiobook)
  8. Tape by Steve Camden
  9. The Last Final Girl by Stephen Graham Jones
  10. One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus (ARC)
  11. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
  12. Bang by Barry Lyga
  13. Insanity by Susan Vaught
  14. The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave #2) by Rick Yancey (audiobook)
  15. The Gathering (Shadow House #1) by Dan Poblocki (audiobook)
  16. Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
  17. Ten Count, Volume 1 by Rihito Takarai
  18. The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel
  19. Blood on My Hands by Todd Strasser
  20. Deadly Attraction (Nightmare Hall #3) by Diane Hoh
  21. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (audiobook)

January reading round-up

  • # of books read: 20
  • audiobooks listened to: 5
  • ebooks read: 6
  • nonfiction read: 2
  • ARCs read: 1
  • books from the Experiment in Terror series: 4
  • books from the White Cat series: 3
  • vintage YA: 3
  • total page count: 4,376

I did a ton of reading this month.

In newer releases, I finished up Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital, which was fascinating not quite in the way I had anticipated – I had thought Bellevue was mostly a mental hospital – but still learned a lot about the early days of medicine in America and about the various plagues that swept through New York City.

Freeks, by Amanda Hocking, was an impulse add to my reading list when a stack of new books came up from the library’s tech services and one I had forgotten to put on hold for myself, A List of Cages, was on hold for someone else… The circus/carnival/sideshow theme of course was calling to me.  I like her writing style – it’s easy to read, and fun.  This one took place in the 80’s so there were tons of 80’s references.  I personally think the title is a little cheesy but it fits.

I also read an ARC of Hellworld by Tom Leveen.  This was the kind of post-apocalyptic story I love, where monsters hinted at in ancient religious texts are unleashed – a sci-fi horror thriller.

Another newer book I loved was Challenger Deep, by Neal Shusterman – it completely deserves the National Book Award!

I blazed through 5 audiobooks.  Three of those were Holly Black’s White Cat series, which were narrated by Jesse Eisenberg, and were short and fun to listen to.  Patient Zero was much longer, and yet I blew through that one as well.  Then I listened to Every Exquisite Thing, by Matthew Quick – so, so good.  So quotable.

Three of the books I read this month were “vintage YA.”  The first was The Executioner, a book I thought I remembered reading as a teen back in the 90’s.  Not sure if I actually did… let’s just say the characters weren’t exactly memorable and the mystery didn’t make much sense.  The second, a donation that appeared in my box at the library, was Attitude Problem, which had even bigger plot holes and possibly even flatter characters.  The third was The Woman in the Wall, which was a bit of strange magical realism.  What all of these books made me nostalgic for were the days when you could read a book in a matter of 2-3 hours.

Stealing some reading time at the laundromat #reading #bookstagram #laundry

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I downloaded the rest of the books in the Experiment in Terror series, which I last left off in 2014.  Still just as good two years later.  The premise is two ghosthunters, each with the ability to see ghosts, team up for an internet show.  The sexual tension is insane, and finally I got to the part where Perry and Dex get together!  Naturally, not without Sasquatch, zombies, and plenty of ghosts.  (That’s Into the Hollow, book #6, that I’m reading at the laundromat above).  I also found myself binge-watching “Paranormal Lockdown,” which gave me the Dex & Perry feels.

And finally!  I got to read A List of Cages, which is officially my favorite book this month. Might be my favorite book for the rest of the year, too.  It was so heartbreaking and lovely.  Highly recommended!!

back when YA was an afterschool special

“Vintage” young adult books fall into only a few genres, and I’ve just had the pleasure (?) of reading a few that fit the “Afterschool Special” genre.  This breed of YA is rarely seen for today’s teens.  Reading these books is like being hit over the head with the book’s Very Special Message.

The Wave (1981), written by Todd Strasser under the pen name Morton Rhue, is based on the true story of a classroom experiment that got out of hand.  In teaching his students about how an ordinary person could become involved in the Nazi movement, a teacher institutes “The Wave,” a movement based on discipline, community, and action.  Within a week, the movement spreads beyond the classroom.  Members of The Wave are bullying non-members into joining.

This novel brought to mind some experiments I read about in college, such as the Stanford Prison Experiment and the Milgram Obedience Experiment.  However, the retelling for teens is full of those stock characters you often find in vintage YA.  The main character is the popular and pretty Laurie, dating football star David.  Naturally, Laurie is one of the few who questions The Wave – no one wants to be the drone who buys into The Wave!  The teacher, Mr. Ross, is probably the most three-dimensional character of the lot, unsurprising as it was the original teacher’s story that was mined for the screenplay for the actual afterschool special this book is based on.  Mr. Ross, the “cool teacher,” comes up with this idea and begins to waver between knowing the experiment has gotten out of hand and believing he has created something good.  The ending is especially heavy-handed.

The Very Important Lesson: Nazism is bad, Individualism is good.  Even you can become a Nazi if you don’t think for yourself!

The second Very Special novel I read was Too Young to Die (1987) by Alida E. Young.  Check out this awesomely cheesy cover, which actually depicts a scene in the story!

It seems this story was written as some kind of public service announcement about Students Against Drunk Driving.  That’s the main thrust of the story: popular kid Shane gets hit by a car, driven by a classmate who was drunk driving.  His girlfriend Robin starts a crusade S.A.D.D. chapter at her school and alienates all of her friends in her undying concern for her boyfriend, who lies in a coma in the hospital.  Statistics about drunk driving accidents are spewed.  Months go by.  Eventually she sees that the kid drunk driving, Troy, felt guilty about the whole thing.  Takes her almost the entire book, too.

The most unbelievable part of this story, I thought, was that Robin was only fourteen.  Not to say that a fourteen-year-old couldn’t be so in love with her boyfriend that she sits by his bedside for months.  Part of me – the sarcastic, skeptical part – had Robin pegged from the very beginning as that girl who laid all her hopes and dreams of becoming popular on her boyfriend.  Without Shane, who was she?  Basically no one.  She doesn’t seem to have any of her own interests.  I felt like this was the true reason why she sat by Shane’s bedside all those months.  Ah, well.

The Very Important Lesson: Don’t drink and drive!

Last, and sort of least, was More Than Just a Smart Girl (1987) by Lurlene McDaniel.  I say least mostly because this wasn’t as heavy-handed as the first two.  But it was still a story about a nice girl who learns a Very Important Lesson.

Alissa is such a smarty-pants she got skipped ahead and now at age 13 she’s starting high school. What’s scary at first turns super awesome when she discovers that Derek, the star football player, is in her study hall and also needs her help with math homework. Soon Alissa is lying to her old fat friend Georgia and to her parents and doing Derek’s homework for him and hoping Derek will realize she’s just as pretty as any of the cheerleaders.

This book was so predictable I laughed a few times. I think everyone in the world could see that Derek was just using Alissa; I mean, she practically begged him to let her do his homework for him. The story is written in such an old-fashioned way that I could have told you exactly how it would end, including Alissa making it up to Georgia and her new friend Casey’s brother Steve showing up to be The Nice Guy. Not only did Alissa learn that she shouldn’t bother putting on make up or dress up for a guy, but Georgia learned an important lesson as well, as she “decided not to be fat anymore” and went on a diet and lost a bunch of weight.

The best part was Alissa’s freak out after she figures out Derek is using her.  Throughout the entire book she’s such a nerdy wallflower and then she basically loses it in the hallway at school.

The Very Important Lesson: Don’t change for a guy.

Sure, these are important lessons to impart to the youth.  Luckily, YA has evolved as a genre so the lessons aren’t *quite* so laughably obvious.

Cheerleaders in YA Horror

Cheerleaders have been representing the “mean girl” since before the term was coined.  While during the 80s teen literature was full of the popular girls and the girls who wanted to be popular – think Sweet Valley High and the “Cheerleaders” series – once teen horror blew up in the late 80s and early 90s, cheerleaders went from desirable to evil bitches who were either the tormentors or became the victims.  Because… didn’t they deserve it?

Interestingly, many of the authors of the conventional “Cheerleaders” series became horror writers.  Caroline B. Cooney, Christopher Pike, Diane Hoh, and Carol Ellis all went on to write horror – and three of these four authors later wrote horror stories about cheerleaders.   Hmm…

Cheerleaders #2: Getting Even was written by Christopher Pike, and though it certainly sounds like it would involve an element of horror, which was the only reason I read it back when I was a teen.  But it’s more mean girling and petty jealousy.  Unlike Die Softly by Christopher Pike.

In Die Softly, cheerleaders are still highly desirable – but what makes this different from the girly SVH and Cheerleaders series is that this time it’s about a guy.  A guy who wants to take naked pictures of cheerleaders in the locker room, because he wants to put them up all over school and embarrass them.  Not only that, when he later develops said photos, he sees a figure in the background, and the girl in the picture later turns up dead.

This is a full departure from the clean, sexless cheerleaders of the mid-eighties, and what made Christopher Pike so popular.  Yes, guys are horny!  Cheerleaders are sex objects!  And of course, because this is Christopher Pike, lots of time spent on the process of developing photographs and fucked up dreams.  And here we have both the cheerleader as victim, and the cheerleader as (SPOILER ALERT) murderous coke addict.

R.L. Stine’s own cheerleaders series (The First Evil, The Second Evil, and The Third Evil) came out a year after Die Softly and once again, the cheerleaders are both victim and villain, and also one unlucky cheerleader dies in the shower.  Bobbi and Corky (this name just made me think of the TV show Life Goes On) are new to Shadyside and join the cheerleading squad, and are apparently such awesome cheerleaders that other members of the team are pissed, including one girl who is demoted to alternate.  When the head cheerleader is paralyzed in an accident, Bobbi is promoted to head cheerleader, causing even more insane cheerleader jealousy.

The evil continues for two more books – just when you think it’s done, it comes back!  Never doubt the power of Fear Street and the ghosts of old pilgrims who possess cheerleaders for no apparent reason other than wanting everyone to die.

Cheerleaders & Vampires

Caroline B. Cooney’s The Cheerleader has quite the innocuous title.  The cover is less so.  Here’s a cheerleader, and there are also vampires!  And the tagline: “She would do anything to be popular.”

Like every other girl, Althea just wants to be popular, so she makes a deal with the vampire in her attic (don’t ask) who says he can make her popular and a cheerleader if she’ll just pick out a victim.  Naturally, she chooses the head cheerleader, not realizing she will have to continuously offer up her new-found friends as blood donations or else lose her popularity.  Yet again: cheerleader as victim and (once Althea’s on top) as tormentor!

Though the vampire returns again (Revenge of the Vampire) and again (The Vampire’s Promise), the cheerleader aspect is not as explored – although in Revenge of the Vampire, the main character is willing to bring the vampire some victims if he will make her beautiful.  In The Vampire’s Promise, 6 teens are trapped in the house where Althea formerly lived, and they must choose one of their own to sacrifice to the vampire.  Sherree, one of the six, is a cheerleader, and is quite willing to sacrifice any or all of her friends to avoid dying herself.

Lest we all forget, Elena Gilbert from The Vampire Diaries is also a cheerleader.  Elena from the books is of the blonde, bitchy variety who can’t understand why the hot new guy at school doesn’t like her.  She also engages in some frenemy-type behaviors with fellow cheerleader Caroline.  In essence she is exactly the shallow, vain, mean girl one would expect a cheerleader to be, and most reviewers found her quite unlikable.  Unfortunately The Vampire Diaries isn’t really “horror” per se, but I thought the vampire + cheerleader thing was too obvious not to include.

To be read!

In searching “cheerleaders” in all YA fiction from 1985-1995 on Worldcat, I found a couple of other titles aside from the above and those from the Cheerleaders or Sweet Valley High series – titles I have not read!

The Scream Team by Diane Hoh is part of the Nightmare Hall series.  Delle (I seriously need to write a blog post about weird names in YA!) wants to be a cheerleader at – dun dun dun! – Salem University.  “Once Delle thought she would die to get a place on the team. Now she realizes she may have to…”  Um… if you die, you can’t really be on the team?  Or is the team made up of zombies?

The Cheerleaders by John Hall is apparently about two girls named Holly and Alison.  Both want to be cheerleaders.  Somewhere along the way, Alison died and Holly made the squad, but now Holly is receiving threatening phone calls from Alison.  Sounds to me like Holly has a guilty conscience!

Just outside of my search range, I found this gem.  The Curse of the Cheerleaders, published in 1997, is more of a Goosebumps-level book, about a head cheerleader who is (judging from her face on the cover) an alien and can strike down the other team with lightning when her team is losing.

The phrase “dying to be popular” seems to be the common theme among the cheerleader horror genre.  The “mean girl” phenomenon is quite rampant as well, as most of these involve cheerleader vs. cheerleader violence and murder.

After 1995, the cheerleader horror genre drops off dramatically.  A backlash, perhaps?  From 1995-2005, we get another installment in R.L. Stine’s Cheerleaders series, and the rest are a return to the typical girly cheerleader fare (a lot of TV tie-ins, like Lizzie McGuire, Mary Kate and Ashley, etc., or series just about cheerleaders, e.g. Cheer USA!).  From 2005-present, there are a lot of cheerleader humor titles: NERDS: The Cheerleaders of Doom, Zombie Blondes, Fat Boy Versus the Cheerleaders.  Unfortunately, there are no signs that the evil cheerleader trend will return anytime soon…

Review: a bunch of Awful Library Books

Found in my box at work:

1. Make-Up Monsters by Marcia Lynn Cox (1976)

So, this looks innocent enough.  That’s until you open it up.

Disease Face?  Is that a kind of monster?  Never mind the fact that this kid looks like his face is covered in oatmeal, glued on with corn syrup… Oh, wait.  That’s exactly what it is.

I imagine this is secondary character from “House of Wax”?  Yeah, this is pretty frightening… I’m just not sure what monster, aside from the Elephant Man, this is really supposed to be.

And finally, a monster.  I find this picture truly frightening.  Is there really a kid under all that?  And honestly, what kid today would sit there while this was being done to him?  Eek.

2. My Boys Can Swim!: The Official Guy’s Guide to Pregnancy by Ian Davis (1999)

Enough said.

3. Rap Therapy by Don Elligan (2004)

 Clearly, this is a book I would need to use dealing with the teens in my library…  If you need a good laugh, just read a few of the sample raps.

Review: Tightrope

Tightrope Tightrope by Gillian Cross

Summary: Ashley – who chooses the name “Cindy” when she tags her graffiti – discovers someone is stalking her by sending weird notes and bits of liver and sheep skulls. Ashley draws the attention of Joe, the court jester to the street king Eddie Beale, and though Ashley is the “good girl”, she finds herself starting to trust Eddie and his gang to help her find out who the stalker is. Is it the Hyena, son of the local shop owner Fat Annie? And how can Ashley keep her invalid mother from finding out?

It was hard to believe this book was first published in 1999.  It felt so much older than that…

The Name Game

  • Ashley/Cindy – Ashley’s a fairly common, modernish name, but Cindy?  You choose the name Cindy?  You’re a graffiti artist!  At least spell is Sindy or Synd33 or something.
  • Eddie – big bad Eddie… All I could think of was Eddie and the Cruisers, circa 1982
  • Matt, Vikki, Joe, Pauline, Tricia – I could be reading a Sweet Valley High novel.

Squeaky Clean

This is a version of the streets straight out of vintage YA, where the biggest crimes are stealing VCRs, and no one swears, and gang members don’t carry guns or do drugs.  Eddie’s gang is more like a circus troupe: Joe does imitations like a clown, his girlfriend Sam can breathe fire, and Ashley shows off her acrobatic skills, all to impress him.  Of course Ashley, the main character, is a squeaky clean good girl who only does graffiti late at night, after she’s done the grocery shopping and brushed her invalid mother’s hair.  Even the Hyena, a grown man obsessed with Ashley (who I think was 14), is mostly only thinking about what a nice girl she is and how she’s the only nice kid left in the neighborhood. No pervy thoughts or intentions at all. 

Do you remember when:

  • you had to go to the video store to rent a movie for your brand-new VCR?
  • when the school library computers were used only for CD-ROMs?
  • that one person who owned a cell phone was SO COOL?
  • if you wanted to let everyone know to be at a certain place at a certain time, the best way to do it was not via Facebook or text messaging, but to graffiti a freaking wall?

What?  No Love Triangle?

Even though it seemed at one point that Joe and Ashley might have some chemistry, there is never any hint of a relationship between them.  In a modern novel, there would have been some romance, somewhere.  Here the main couples are Eddie and Sam, and Matt and Vikki.  While Sam is beautiful and does some modeling, there is zero chemistry between them.

As for Matt and Vikki, at one point early on in the story it seems that Matt is abusive toward Vikki and leaves a bruise on her, for which Ashley really lays into her about.  But was Ashley saying, “You should ditch the abusive boyfriend,” or was she saying, as she says later in the book, that Vikki shouldn’t make Matt angry, because of his temper?    A minor thing, but definitely something that didn’t sit right with me.  Most of the time Vikki’s a bitch to him anyway, ditching him and trying to flirt with Eddie.

Without the romance that so dominates almost every YA book on the market right now, I could really focus on the story, which was a decent mystery/thriller.  The alternate viewpoints at the end of each chapter were interesting little red herrings, and the story keeps up a pretty good pace.

(A part of me, though, wished for just a little bit more romance).

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