Locked Inside

Nancy Werlin, Author Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers $15.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-385-32700-8
Less taut than Werlin's The Killer's Cousin, this novel nevertheless offers enough cliffhangers to keep readers hooked. Marnie hasn't been able to reach out to anyone since the death of her wealthy superstar mother, Skye (""an ex-gospel singer who'd started her own well, some said it was practically a religion""). Not knowing even her father's identity, her doings supervised by a guardian, Marnie alienates the other girls at her boarding school. Instead of studying, she immerses herself in an Internet strategy game and her one friend, the Elf, remains at a comfortable distance in cyberspace. But when Leah Slaight, a new teacher, kidnaps her in a misguided attempt to prove that she is also Skye's daughter, Marnie must depend on the skills she has learned in her game to save herself. Even beyond this unlikely premise, there is plenty to strain credibility, such as the Elf showing up single-handed to free Marnie (Leah captures him, too), and Marnie emerging a more together person after being locked in a basement for a week. For all the implausibility, the book is entertaining. Marnie's outsiderishness is of the kind that appeals to readers (""At least you match,"" she thinks, when she realizes the black eye Leah gave her is the same shade as her dress) and her personality is spirited enough to live up to the creative problem-solving Werlin assigns her. Ages 14-up. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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