cover image Wicked Games

Wicked Games

Sean Olin. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-219237-0

First in a planned series, Olin's (Brother/Sister) novel opens like an episode of Dawson's Creek and morphs into a lurid exposé of breakup violence. Carter and Lilah are voted "class couple" during their senior year of high school in the sleepy beach town of Dream Point. But their relationship isn't what it seems—Lilah is mentally unstable, and they argue constantly. They've planned to attend the University of Pennsylvania together in the fall, but Lilah hides her rejection letter from Carter, and her anger, insecurity, and codependence eventually become unbearable for him. After a dramatic fight, Carter falls for an artsy, easygoing beauty named Jules and dumps Lilah, which sends her into a rampage. Amid Lilah's over-the-top terrorizing of Carter and Jules, Olin explores the insidiousness of jealousy, as well as the liberation of finding release from a toxic relationship. However, the omniscient narration leaves little of the characters' feelings and motivations concealed, resulting in storytelling that lacks subtlety and often tilts toward cliché. An intriguing but unexceptional thriller. Ages 14–up. (June)