A complex and layered campus mystery that explores pernicious stereotypes.

THE LIES WE TELL

An intrepid college freshman pushes past her comfort zone to investigate an unsolved murder.

Brookings University freshman Anna Xu, back home in Michigan after a whirlwind summer in Beijing with relatives, is on a mission. She hopes to discover who killed Melissa Hong, her childhood babysitter, who was a sophomore at Brookings 7 years ago. Her stealth investigation isn’t easy to carry out when she’s also making new friends, navigating the college social scene, and fielding sinister threats resulting from her sleuthing. Not to mention worrying about Sweetea, her immigrant parents’ struggling Chinese bakery, now that old family rivals the Lus have opened a bakery of their own nearby. Not only that, their son, Chris Lu, is a fellow student, and Anna isn’t sure how she feels about him: Is he a competitor, a friend, or perhaps something more? With the help of Chris and others, Anna edges closer to learning what happened to Melissa. But will she discover the truth in time to prevent more tragedies? Anna is realistically drawn—at times socially uncertain but relentless in her search for answers about Melissa’s murder. In addition to the fast-paced, well-crafted main plot, subthemes abound and are all given full play: anime geek culture, White male domination of the Asian studies field, anti-Asian hate, and the sexual fetishization of Asian women.

A complex and layered campus mystery that explores pernicious stereotypes. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0399-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: today

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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SIX OF CROWS

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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An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work.

14 WAYS TO DIE

A teen sleuth tries livestreaming to catch a murderer.

Seventeen-year-old Jessica Simmons lost her mother a decade ago, the first victim of the Magpie Man, a serial killer now on victim No. 13, who has struck in locations around the U.K. Her father’s life is still in shambles and her former friends are long gone, but Jessica’s decided to publicize her tragedy. One of five contestants on YouTube’s “The Eye”—an unscripted, livestreamed reality show—Jessica asks her viewers to help identify the serial killer. But inviting the world into her home and school brings unwanted attention, perhaps even from the Magpie Man, whose body count keeps climbing: Sleuthing-related drama and peril ensue. Jessica’s friends and family are economically rendered yet believable, and Ralph renders grief beautifully and devastatingly, as something that evolves but doesn’t end. As in the story, the bulk of the action occurs when the cameras aren’t rolling, and eventually, the reality show premise and its minimally developed contestants are more a distraction and transparent deus ex machina than an integral part of Jessica’s journey. More intriguing—and with real-life precedents—is the possibility of crowdsourcing a murder investigation. Although the fast-paced finale can’t quite overcome the slow start and overlong middle, the tale reaches a dramatic, satisfactory conclusion. Characters follow a White default.

An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work. (resources, author interview) (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72823-186-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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