A compelling and grim new entry into an evergreen genre.

THE BURIED

A horror-tinged, claustrophobic survival story.

After the Cataclysm, three families believe they are the only people left on Earth and live with the charismatic Dr. Moran (whose name contains echoes of Dr. Moreau) in an underground bunker. Ten years in, the three teens—Russian American Sash, Korean American Yuna, and Gabe, who is cued as Latinx—chafe at Dr. Moran’s strict rules, which include no touching. Steady Gabe collects facts and keeps the machinery of the bunker running, compassionate Yuna excels at the ballet classes taught by Sash’s mom and keeps her head down, and rebellious Sash defies Dr. Moran and crushes on Yuna (her crush is reciprocated but largely unspoken). The straightforward, simple narration switches between them in close third-person chapters as they discover that Dr. Moran may be lying to them about everything. The bunker, littered with 1980s detritus, bathed in dim red light, and filled with their tiny collection of families, is tightly controlled by Dr. Moran, who suits up and exits each night to see if the world is habitable yet. This novel begins in slow motion with a classic dystopian arc but evolves into gripping light horror as the teens begin to discover the truth about the day the world ended and about Dr. Moran, who hides a fanatical cruelty beneath her seemingly benevolent exterior.

A compelling and grim new entry into an evergreen genre. (Horror. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-62930-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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