Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Row, The Dead Boyfriend

27414418Johansson, J.R. The Row
October 11th 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Riley and her mother have struggled ever since her lawyer father was imprisoned for a series of killings. He has always claimed he was innocent, and Riley has continued to visit him. As the date for his execution approaches, and the appeals all fail, she wants to try to prove his innocence. With the help of Jordan, a fun guy who's super great with his younger brother, she starts the process... but then she realizes that Jordan is the son of the cop who put her father away. As the two investigate all of the circumstances behind her father's conviction, they come across a lot of conflicting information. Her family's circumstances weren't as rosy as she was lead to believe before her father was arrested, and when a new murder is committed, Riley is torn between the belief that it means her father is innocent, and the fear that he may be orchestrating something evil from behind bars. When her father's paralegal shoots his partner just as Riley and Jordan are supposed to meet with him in a local park, things become even more fraught with danger. 
Strengths: This was a great book on a lot of levels. The romance with Jordan was particularly nice in a star-crossed lovers kind of way, and the stripping away of Riley's perfect family facade was done in a masterful, intriguing way. This would make a fantastic movie! Psychological thriller, definitely, and great for those middle school students who want a murder mystery. 
Weaknesses: While this skews Young Adult because of some alcohol consumption (which Riley learns is a BAD idea) and the fact that there were murders and there is mention of an affair, there's nothing that would shock the average 11 year old who is allowed to watch CSI. No particularly horrific details. 
What I really think: Again, like Black Roses, White Lies, this is perfect for 8th grade reluctant readers who would rather read fan fic on WattPad on their phones. 

28220872Stine, R.L. The Dead Boyfriend (Fear Street Relaunch #5)
September 27th 2016 by A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin's 
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

**SPOILER ALERT** Can't write this without giving away key plot points.

Caitlynn's friends are a bit concerned that she is spending so much time with Blade. Deena Fear has warned Caitlynn that "she saw him first" but tries to befriend Caitlynn, who is not very interested in the creepy, Goth-wannabes friendship. When Caitlynn sees Blade out with another girl, and Blade tells her that their relationship was not that serious, she waits for him outside him house and stabs him to death in a brutal fashion. Oddly, even though the police come to her house later because the front door is open and see her with blood stains, she isn't arrested, although she thinks she will be. Deena Fear confides that she made Caitlynn kill him, and wishes she hadn't, which is why Deena tried (and failed) to reanimate him at his own funeral. Deena (who has her deceased parents taxidermied and in glass cases at home) wants Blade back, but Caitlynn is tired of being followed around by a dead guy who tries to kiss her. In the end, we find out that everything was not as it seemed, in a sort of Bobby-in-Dallas moment...OR WAS IT???
Strengths: Definitely will fit the bill for students who want books about murder. There's a fair amount of blood involved with a reanimated corpse. 
Weaknesses: Returns to the format of the original series, which had a lot more high school girl drama than I would have expected. 
What I really think: I'll buy it, but I don't have to like it. The other books in this series have been good, but I didn't enjoy this one. Too high an "ick" factor.

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