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a double dose of YA thrillers

The Safest Lies by Megan Miranda
Pub. Date: May 24, 2016
Source: finished copy via publisher (Thank you, Crown!)
Summary: Kelsey was raised to see danger everywhere. Her mother hasn’t set foot outside their front door in seventeen years, since she escaped from her kidnappers with Kelsey growing inside her. Kelsey knows she’s supposed to keep a low profile for their own protection, but that plan is shattered when she drives off a cliff and is rescued by volunteer firefighter and classmate Ryan Baker.

A few days later, she arrives home to face her greatest fear: her mother is missing. She and her mother have drilled for all contingencies—except this one. Luckily, Ryan is as skilled at emergency rescues as Kelsey is at escape and evasion.

To have a chance at a future, Kelsey will have to face all her darkest fears. Because someone is coming for her. And the truth about the past may end up being the most dangerous thing of all.
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Thriller

Her entire life, Kelsey has kept her darkest secrets locked safely inside: secrets about being homeschooled by a mother who hasn’t left the house in 17 years, secrets about why their house is essentially a fortress and why the social worker is her emergency contact. But when a car accident (and subsequent rescue) makes its way to the media, Kelsey realizes the danger she’s in. Particularly when she returns home one night to discover her mother is gone.

She knows there’s no way her mom would have simply walked through the door and out into the world – she orders her groceries online; she wasn’t even able to bring herself to go to the hospital after Kelsey’s accident! Something happened, something bad, and Kelsey knows she’ll have to face whatever it is that suddenly broke through their protective walls.

First thing’s first: Megan Miranda is a writing machine! The Safest Lies is out today and she has her first Adult novel (All the Missing Girls) dropping next month! The moment this one arrived I immediately settled in and got started.

The Safest Lies is pitched as being for fans of Lauren Oliver’s Panic and Gayle Forman’s I Was Here. I haven’t read either, so I can’t say how accurate those comparisons are, but the latter half of the novel definitely took on a Panic room-esque quality – mainly due to a literal panic room (or “safe room” as Kelsey calls it.) With Kelsey’s identity (and location) publicized, her mother’s past comes back – and it isn’t pretty. Kelsey witnesses just how much of a stronghold her house is…until it isn’t.

Compulsively readable and blindingly fast, I tore through The Safest Lies in an afternoon. While I could easily guess at some of the major twists, I was able to suspend my disbelief and enjoy the ride. I could totally see this one working as a movie or a beach read – it’s definitely action-packed and intriguing!

Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten
Pub. Date: May 31, 2016
Source: finished copy via publisher (Thank you, Delacorte!)
Summary: The Haves. The Have-Nots. Kate O’Brian appears to be a Have-Not. Her whole life has been a series of setbacks she’s had to snake her way out of—some more sinister than others. But she’s determined to change that. She’s book smart. She’s street-smart. Oh, and she’s also a masterful liar.

As the scholarship student at the Waverly School in NYC, Kate has her work cut out for her: her plan is to climb the social ladder and land a spot at Yale. She’s already found her “people” among the senior class “it” girls—specifically in the cosseted, mega-wealthy yet deeply damaged Olivia Sumner. As for Olivia, she considers Kate the best friend she’s always needed, the sister she never had.

When the handsome and whip-smart Mark Redkin joins the Waverly administration, he immediately charms his way into the faculty’s and students’ lives—becoming especially close to Olivia, a fact she’s intent on keeping to herself. It becomes increasingly obvious that Redkin poses a threat to Kate, too, in a way she can’t reveal—and can’t afford to ignore. How close can Kate and Olivia get to Mark without having to share their dark pasts?
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Thriller

With comparisons to Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, Gossip Girl, and The Silent Wife, Teresa Toten’s Beware That Girl certainly has a lot to live up to. As a scholarship-student, Kate has to work twice as hard as her blue-blooded classmates. She rents a tiny, perpetually damp bedroom in Chinatown and works every free minute in order to pay for it (along with her secondhand uniforms.) Olivia, on the other hand, has it all: a sprawling penthouse, a high-profile father who’s never home, and the requisite disorders and prescriptions any proper It Girl has. The one thing she doesn’t have? A real friend – a friend she just might have found in Kate.

Told in alternating voices, Beware That Girl shifts between Kate and Olivia as they form a friendship – and the downward spiral that awaits them. Kate weasels her way into Olivia’s life (and, later in the book, her home – the two become roommates) as she makes practically a career of lying and manipulation. Kate knows exactly who she is and where she’s come from and she’s putting every ounce of street-smart into carving out a path to Yale. Olivia, on the other hand, recently returned from a stay at a mental health clinic for reasons she refuses to discuss – reasons Kate desperately wants to uncover. Standing in her way, however, is a new faculty member, the too-charming Mr. Redkin. Gorgeous and oh-so-suave, Mark has teachers and students alike eating from his hand and makes no attempt to hide his various dalliances. Whatever Mark’s selling, Kate definitely isn’t buying; there’s something going on with him and Kate’s vehement distrust serves as a wedge between her and Olivia.

What’s neat about this book is that it starts at the very end. The further along I got in the story, the more I was convinced about what that first chapter meant…until the novel came full circle and revisited the scene. Suddenly I wasn’t so sure these girls were who I had originally thought they were. Unfortunately, this is one of those reviews that has to suffer from a serious case of vagueness – I won’t ruin the reveal for anyone!!

Beware That Girl was a totally new-to-me book by an author I had never heard of. While I’m not convinced it lives up to its comparisons (Gone Girl, We Were Liars) it was definitely a fun and fast-paced novel that kept me guessing and had me flipping pages. Fans of very unreliable narrators, secrets, and puppies (Bruce!) will feel right at home with Beware That Girl!

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