July2016 Booklist 55 www.booklistonline.com
tures his attention. Arnold alternates between
Vic’s and Mad’s perspectives as they recall the
days leading to their interrogation. Bloodthirsty readers drawn to the murder element,
be warned. This novel is for “heart-thinkers.”
Darkness and complexity swirl beneath the
surface, as each KOA member copes with personal traumas. At times it feels like Arnold has
too many balls in the air, but philosophical
teens drawn to themes of belonging will revel
in his latest. —Julia Smith
By Aaron Starmer.
Aug. 2016. 368p. Dutton, $17.99 (9780525429746).
This is how it starts: Katelyn Ogden
blows up in third period pre-calc, the victim of spontaneous combustion. In short
order, other identical deaths inexplicably
follow. What on earth could be causing
them? Genes? Drugs? A virus? It’s an irresistibly original premise for a story told in
the achingly honest, darkly humorous, and
occasionally acerbic voice of Katelyn’s classmate Mara. As deaths escalate, a pattern of
sorts emerges: all of the victims have been
high-school seniors, a trait shared by Mara;
her best friend, Tess; and her new boyfriend,
Dylan. Will they be the next victims? Perhaps
FBI agent Carla Rosetti—Mara’s hero, a sort
of X–Files Scully type—can find out. Or
perhaps not, for as the novel continues, the
only certainty is uncertainty. What does it
all mean? Don’t expect neat, tidy answers,
for none are forthcoming in Starmer’s sometimes frustrating, sometimes fascinating, and
occasionally maddening exercise in Grand
Guignol. Its many imponderables make
this one a great book for discussion groups.
Still Life with Tornado.
By A. S. King.
Oct. 2016. 304p. Dutton, $17.99 (9781101994887).
Sarah stops going to school after her art
teacher curtly announces that nothing is truly
original, and suddenly artistically talented
Sarah can’t draw anymore. Now she wanders
surrealistic device to convey the complex-
ity of Sarah’s emotional growth. When Sarah
was 10, she witnessed firsthand her father’s
seething cruelty, but 16-year-old Sarah has
forgotten it, choosing not to look beyond the
surface of her parents’ strained marriage. But
the more 10-year-old Sarah is around, the
more 16-year-old Sarah’s curiosity about those
memories dredges up shreds of the truth. As
she approaches the kernel at the heart of her
breakdown, 16-year-old Sarah’s growing rap-
port with her past and future selves, as well as
with her mother, a fiery night-shift ER nurse,
reflects her expanding sense of self and her
strength. Sarah’s cutting, honest first-person
narrative is studded with powerful images,
and her restrained tone is a captivating vehicle
for her roiling thoughts and feelings. Occa-
sional sections from her mother’s perspective
offer chilling insight into the damage that
abuse, physical and otherwise, leaves behind.
A deeply moving, frank, and compassionate
exploration of trauma and resilience, filled
to the brim with incisive, grounded wisdom.
Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy.
By Cassandra Clare and others.
Nov. 2016. 672p. illus. Simon & Schuster/Margaret K.
McElderry, $23.99 (9781481443258). Gr. 9–12.
Simon Lewis can’t stay home, not when
he’s lost his memories but not the emotions
connected to them. He knows he loves his
friends, but for him, their shared history
has been erased. All he can do is head to the
Shadowhunter Academy and hope that as he
trains, his memories will return. At the academy, he has to deal not only with the grueling
training sessions and often boring lessons but
also the always-simmering tension between
mundanes like him and the kids born to be
Shadowhunters. Originally published as individual e-books, each story in this collection
follows Simon’s journey and is filled with a
light wit that balances the high stakes of his
magical school. While the emotional connection might not immediately be there for those
unfamiliar with the Mortal Instruments series, the characters are well drawn and quickly
pull readers in. A black-and-white comics
spread before each story adds further appeal,
resulting in a great read for fantasy fans who
want to be completely immersed in a different
world. —Molly Horan
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The best-selling Mortal Instruments series isn’t losing
any steam. Expect plenty of interest from
both readers and fans of the movies and the
Shadowhunters TV series.
The Thousandth Floor.
By Katharine McGee.
Aug. 2016. 448p. Harper, $18.99 (9780062418593).
In 2118 Manhattan, high society is literally
sky-high—on the thousandth floor of the
Tower, where the Fuller family has its pent-
house. Avery Fuller, a genetically engineered
queen bee high-school student, lives there
with her parents and adopted brother, Atlas.
Her circle of high-dwelling friends includes
Leda (who’s fighting drug addiction) and
Eris (who’s just learned she’s the product of
her mother’s affair). Much lower down in the
Tower live tech genius Watt (hired by Eris
to spy on her crush, Atlas) and orphaned
Rylin, a housekeeper swept into a romance
with high-dwelling playboy Cord. In the
prologue, an unspecified girl from this cast
falls from the thousandth floor, triggering
the interlocking backstories that follow. It’s
a clever construction, and although it feels
very much like watching an episode of Gossip
Girl set 100 years in the future, readers who
love uncovering scandalous secrets will find
themselves staying up late to see who fell and
why. McGee captures the backstabbing ten-
dencies of teens, but takes care to flesh out
characters so that no one is truly villainous.
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: You might
say this is a towering debut, with a six-figure
marketing campaign including an author tour
and original video content.
By Jay Asher.
Oct. 2016. 272p. Penguin/Razorbill, $18.99
(9781595145512). Gr. 7–10.
Asher’s latest is a surprising change of
direction from the best-selling Thirteen
Reasons Why (2007): a frothy, peppermint-in-hot-cocoa romance. Ever since she was
little, Sierra’s lived a dual life, split between
her family’s Christmas tree farm in Oregon
and the California town where they run a
tree lot for one month out of the year. But
with tree sales not what they used to be, this
winter may be her last in California. Enter
Caleb, the social pariah better known for a
sole act of aggression years ago than his current gig providing Christmas trees to needy
families. Sierra’s friends and family try to
steer her away from Caleb, but all she sees is
who he is today. Can she convince him he’s
forgiven? Though the plot is solidly in the
Hallmark vein, Asher gives it the gentle romance treatment many younger teens crave.
Sierra’s story provides an interesting window
into alternative schooling and living arrangements facing some teens whose families
work in agriculture. Certain to please readers
seeking an escapist, feel-good holiday read.
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With an
author tour and a hefty marketing campaign
behind it, Asher’s follow-up to his best-selling
debut is destined for lots of attention.
By S. J. Goslee.
Aug. 2016. 304p. Roaring Brook, $17.99
(9781626723993). Gr. 9–12.
Let’s face it, dudes and dudettes: Goslee’s
debut is seriously cool. In large part that’s
due to her droll cast of characters. Her star
is 16-year-old Mike, whose three favorite
things are his little sister,
Rosie; his garage band; and
his sorta girlfriend, Lisa.
Only now Lisa has broken
up with him—sorta. That’s
bad, but not fatal, because
she’s still his BFF. Until she
mentions how he’s gay. But
Mike’s not gay. Is he? At
least Rook Wallace, his long-time bête noire,
firmly remains his foe. Doesn’t he? Geez,