A fun mystery with a clever hero that offers sharp, surprising takes on big issues.


A 16-year-old investigates her new high school’s murderous secrets in Gibbs’ YA novel.

Izzy Brown and her twin brother, Axl, are living in a trailer with their mother in Dandridge, Florida, when Axl’s football talents earn them both a wealthy and powerful benefactor. Real estate mogul Dalton Wolfe moves the twins to the exclusive Bardo Academy, named after its neighboring “laboratory-developed beach community,” as Izzy calls it. Axl quickly feels at home there as the star jock, but Izzy’s feisty comebacks and thoughtful nature make it harder for her to feel at ease with kids whose houses look “like the set of a drug lord film.” Still, she finds her place on the staff of the Bardo Breeze, the school newspaper, and befriends Elton Jones-Davies, a nice boy with Asperger syndrome who loves editing Wikipedia entries. Wanting to become an investigative journalist on a par with Nellie Bly, Izzy, with Elton’s help, starts digging into the unsolved 1983 murder of Ricky Lee, another star football player who was attending Bardo on a scholarship. As adults who remember Ricky become skittish around the investigation, Izzy finds herself turning to prescription drugs to numb the stress of trying to untangle dark secrets. Set in 2008, months before that year’s financial crisis and at the beginning of the opioid crisis, Gibbs’ teen thriller has smart, relevant social commentary bubbling under its surface. Izzy is capable and smart but also relatably flawed and critical of herself, and flashbacks to 1983 reveal Ricky’s status as an outsider at Bardo in multiple ways. The parallel stories reinforce the book’s complex perspective on privilege, otherness, and Florida in general while leading up to an outlandish twist.

A fun mystery with a clever hero that offers sharp, surprising takes on big issues.

Pub Date: May 17, 2022


Page Count: 300

Publisher: Borne Back Books

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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This fast-paced thriller will keep readers guessing.


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

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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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