Fiction, March 2020

One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus. January 7, 2020. Delacorte Press, 375 p. ISBN: 9780525707974.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 740.

The highly anticipated, #1 New York Times bestselling sequel to One of Us Is Lying! There’s a new mystery to solve at Bayview High, and there’s a whole new set of rules.

Come on, Bayview, you know you’ve missed this.

A ton of copycat gossip apps have popped up since Simon died, but in the year since the Bayview four were cleared of his shocking death, no one’s been able to fill the gossip void quite like he could. The problem is no one has the facts.

Until now.

This time it’s not an app, though—it’s a game.

Truth or Dare.

Phoebe‘s the first target. If you choose not to play, it’s a truth. And hers is dark.

Then comes Maeve and she should know better—always choose the dare.

But by the time Knox is about to be tagged, things have gotten dangerous. The dares have become deadly, and if Maeve learned anything from Bronwyn last year, it’s that they can’t count on the police for help. Or protection.

Simon’s gone, but someone’s determined to keep his legacy at Bayview High alive. And this time, there’s a whole new set of rules.

Sequel to: One of Us is Lying

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Homophobic slur; Mild sexual themes; Sexual assault; Strong language; Underage drinking; Violence; Sexual harassment; Alcohol abuse

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (November 15, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 6))
Grades 9-12. A year ago, in One of Us Is Lying (2017), Simon Kelleher, infamous creator of a gossip app, died during detention at Bayview High. Since then, the students in detention with him—nicknamed the Bayview Four—have all been cleared of his murder, graduated, and moved on. But Bayview remembers. At the high school, lesser copycat apps come and go, but nothing sticks until the game arrives as a mass text. The rules are simple: it’s truth or dare. When Phoebe, the first target, doesn’t pick one, her worst secret is leaked. As she teams up with Maeve, the sister of one of the Bayview Four, and her friend Knox, the game intensifies: the dares are getting dangerous, but everyone wants to keep their secrets. McManus offers a companion that, while set in the same sphere as her hit debut, takes entirely different cues, leaving readers new and old with a dizzying array of fresh twists. A nonlinear narrative and breakneck pacing, combined with the tech element and the already-intense high-school atmosphere, make this a thrilling read.

Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2019)
A dangerous texting game comes to Bayview High in this sequel to One of Us Is Lying (2017). Last year in a San Diego suburb, a gossip app led to a death and inspired weak copycats. Now an anonymous person is sending Truth or Dare messages to the students of Bayview High, and this time no one is safe. If you choose truth (or don’t respond), one of your secrets is revealed. Complete a dare and you’ve passed. The game mostly causes an entertaining stir—until a student winds up dead. Was it an accident, or was it murder? High school juniors Maeve, Phoebe, and Knox find themselves caught up in the mystery of who’s behind the texts. The Bayview Four make appearances, but the compelling heart of the story is the three main characters’ family drama and personal struggles. Maeve thinks she’s having a leukemia relapse, Phoebe slept with her sister’s boyfriend, and Knox interns at a legal aid firm whose staff members are receiving death threats. Shifting perspectives keep the pace steady while McManus (Two Can Keep a Secret, 2019, etc.) deftly weaves in commentary on the justice system, bullying, and slut shaming. Plenty of secrets and surprises will keep readers captivated until the satisfying end. Knox and Phoebe are white, Maeve has Colombian ancestry, and Bayview is a diverse community. A can’t-put-down read. (Thriller. 14-18)

About the Author

Karen M. McManus earned her BA in English from the College of the Holy Cross and her MA in journalism from Northeastern University. She is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying, its sequel One of Us Is Next, and Two Can Keep a Secret. Her work has been published in more than 40 languages.

Her website is www.karenmcmanus.com

Teacher Resources

One of Us is Next on Common Sense Media 

Around the Web

One of Us is Next on Amazon

One of Us is Next on Barnes and Noble

One of Us is Next on Goodreads

One of Us is Next on LibraryThing

One of Us is Next Publisher Page

Fiction, March 2020

Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha. October 15, 2019. Ecco, 304 p. ISBN: 9780062868855.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

A powerful and taut novel about racial tensions in Los Angeles, following two families–one Korean-American, one African-American–grappling with the effects of a decades-old crime

In the wake of the police shooting of a black teenager, Los Angeles is as tense as it’s been since the unrest of the early 1990s. But Grace Park and Shawn Matthews have their own problems. Grace is sheltered and largely oblivious, living in the Valley with her Korean-immigrant parents, working long hours at the family pharmacy. She’s distraught that her sister hasn’t spoken to their mother in two years, for reasons beyond Grace’s understanding. Shawn has already had enough of politics and protest after an act of violence shattered his family years ago. He just wants to be left alone to enjoy his quiet life in Palmdale.

But when another shocking crime hits LA, both the Park and Matthews families are forced to face down their history while navigating the tumult of a city on the brink of more violence.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Violence; Racial slur

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist starred (August 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 22))
When Grace Park’s mother, Jung-Ja Han, is targeted in a drive-by shooting, Grace discovers the truth about her family’s pivotal role in the 1992 L.A. riots. Amid growing tension between South Central’s Asian shop owners and their African American customers, Grace’s mother shot and killed Ava Matthews, a teenage girl Grace had accused of shoplifting and assault, despite the later discovery of only two dollars clutched in Ava’s lifeless hand. Jung-Ja’s light sentence and the Rodney King trial ignited rioting. Fleeing backlash, Jung-Ja changed her name to Yvonne Park and hid in the suburbs. Shawn, Ava’s younger brother, has rebuilt his life after emerging from prison and leaving his fellow Crips gang members behind. Shawn’s cousin Ray has finally been released from prison, too, and Shawn is optimistic about Ray’s reunion with his community-activist mother, his wife, and the teenage twins Shawn has helped raise during Ray’s absence. But the past won’t go away, and Shawn and Ray face police scrutiny for Jung-Ja’s shooting. In addition, Ray has been keeping secrets. As Grace and Shawn desperately try to hold their families together, community outrage over another teen’s shooting places them—and Ava’s tragic death—back in the media spotlight. A gripping, thoughtful portrayal of family loyalty, hard-won redemption, and the destructive force of racial injustice. Cha, author of the Juniper Song PI series, offers a strong contender for the summer’s blockbuster read.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 15, 2019)
A real-life racial incident is transfigured into a riveting thriller about two families’ heartbreaking struggles to confront and transcend rage and loss. It is the late summer of 2019, but no matter how many years have passed, Shawn Matthews, a black ex-convict now working for a Los Angeles moving company, is burdened by memories of the early spring of 1991, when his teenage sister Ava was shot to death by a Korean woman who mistakenly believed she was stealing from her convenience store. The shooting and the resulting trial—in which the woman was convicted and received no jail time, after which she relocated to another part of LA—fed into racial tensions already festering back then from the Rodney King trial. And the city’s reactions to a present-day shooting death of an unarmed black teen by a police officer indicate that those racial animosities remain close to the boiling point. In the midst of the mounting furor, Grace Park, a young Korean woman, is shaken from her placid good nature by the sight of her mother being wounded in a drive-by shooting. “What if she is being punished?” her sister Miriam says, revealing a shocking fact about their mother’s past that Grace hadn’t known. An LAPD detective asks Shawn if he has an alibi for the drive-by (which he does). Nonetheless, the most recent shooting upends his fragile sense of security, and he starts to wonder where his cousin, Ray, himself just released from prison, was when Grace’s mother was shot. Cha, author of the Juniper Song series of detective novels (Dead Soon Enough, 2015, etc.), brings what she knows about crafting noir-ish mysteries into this fictionalized treatment of the 1991 Latasha Harlins murder, blending a shrewd knowledge of cutting-edge media and its disruptive impact with a warm, astute sensitivity toward characters of diverse cultures weighed down by converging traumas. Cha’s storytelling shows how fiction can delicately extract deeper revelations from daily headlines.

About the Author

Steph Cha is the author of Your House Will Pay and the Juniper Song crime trilogy. She’s an editor and critic whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. A native of the San Fernando Valley, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two basset hounds.

Her website is stephcha.com

 

Around the Web

Your House Will Pay on Amazon

Your House Will Pay on Barnes and Noble

Your House Will Pay on Goodreads

Your House Will Pay on LibraryThing

Your House Will Pay Publisher Page

February 2020, Fiction

Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer

Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer. November 19, 2019. Tor Teen, 304 p. ISBN: 9781250165084.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 820.

How much does the internet know about YOU? A thought-provoking near future YA thriller that could not be more timely as it explores issues of online privacy, artificial intelligence, and the power and perils of social networks.

Because her mom is always on the move, Steph hasn’t lived anyplace longer than six months. Her only constant is an online community called CatNet―a social media site where users upload cat pictures―a place she knows she is welcome. What Steph doesn’t know is that the admin of the site, CheshireCat, is a sentient A.I.

When a threat from Steph’s past catches up to her and ChesireCat’s existence is discovered by outsiders, it’s up to Steph and her friends, both online and IRL, to save her.

Catfishing on CatNet is a surprising, heartfelt near-future YA thriller by award-winning author Naomi Kritzer, whose short story “Cat Pictures Please” won the Hugo Award and Locus Award and was a finalist for the Nebula.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racism, Strong sexual themes, Misgendering, Stalking, Domestic violence, Kidnapping

 

Reviews

Booklist (October 15, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 4))
Grades 9-12. Steph’s life isn’t easy. Her mother keeps moving her from town to town every few months to evade her father, who may or may not be a dangerous kidnapper. Meanwhile, Steph finds friendship in an online forum for cat-lovers, known as CatNet. But after she moves to New Coburg and manages to find some real-life friends, she gets involved in a hacking prank that goes awry. In the aftermath, Steph begins to find out more and more disturbing information about her past, and her father just might have enough information to track down her online friends—and maybe even her. Although the narrative style seems to struggle with understanding what it wants to be (the AI’s introspection is a bit too on the nose), Kritzer manages to keep the plot from going entirely over the top. In her first foray into YA literature, she explores social anxieties around technology and automation, artificial intelligence, and gender and sexuality, all while also providing readers with a captivating and mysterious near-future thriller.

Kirkus Reviews starred (September 15, 2019)
Dual narrators—a cat picture–loving AI and a teen with a dangerous past—develop a friendship. Steph’s spent her whole life constantly on the move, never in one town or school long enough to make friends, as her mother keeps them carefully hidden from Steph’s abusive father. Her realest connections are her online friends from an internet community called CatNet. CatNet is secretly run by one of those friends—username CheshireCat—a powerful AI that uses the community for cat pictures and to counter loneliness. When Steph and her friends hack her new school’s sex ed–instructing robot (to give actual, correct answers to questions instead of “You’ll have to discuss that with your parents!”), the resulting hilarity and scandal attract unintended media attention, leading to worries that Steph’s father will be able to use the story to find them. Preemptive digging into her father reveals worrying inconsistencies in what Steph thinks she knows, kicking off a tense, fast-paced thriller storyline. The believably applied near-future technology grounds the wilder plot elements. The personhood elements of the AI narrator’s story complement identity themes among the cast at large—though the new town is nearly all white (with one biracial black/white character), the characters offer positive, realistic LGBTQIA+ representation—especially nonbinary identities and characters still exploring their identities. Refreshingly, the characters also feel like generally-woke-but-still-imperfect humans. Wickedly funny and thrilling in turns; perfect for readers coming-of-age online. (Thriller. 13-adult)

About the Author

Naomi Kritzer has been making friends online since her teens, when she had to use a modem to dial up at 2400 baud. She is a writer and blogger who has published a number of short stories and novels for adults, including the Eliana’s Song duology and the Dead Rivers Trilogy. Her 2015 short story “Cat Pictures Please” won the Hugo Award and Locus Award and was a finalist for the Nebula. Naomi lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with her family and four cats. The number of cats is subject to change without notice.

Her website is www.naomikritzer.com.

Around the Web

Catfishing on CatNet on Amazon

Catfishing on CatNet on Barnes and Noble

Catfishing on CatNet on Goodreads

Catfishing on CatNet on LibraryThing

Catfishing on CatNet Publisher Page