Peter Lerangis, Author . Simon Pulse $8.99 (246p) ISBN 978-1-4169-1360-3

Action-packed from first page to last, this contemporary tale of a “deal-gone-wrong” rotates among six New York teenagers, including Cam, the instigator of a plan to sell drugs at a suburban party; Byron, his partner in crime; and Jimmy, who's just looking for a good time. The first stroke of bad fortune occurs when the boys' car crashes into a deer. Presuming Cam to be dead, his companions flee and are eventually separated. From that point on, Byron, Jimmy, and Cam (who survives with only minor injuries) embark on very different adventures, with danger and surprises around nearly every corner. The book's message, which remains hazy until the last few pages when ironies come to light, is overshadowed by bizarre events—cat-and-mouse chases, miraculous recoveries, convoluted plot twists, and farfetched confrontations. Lerangis (the Drama Club series) particularly delights in metaphor—one character's Long Island accent is “thick as Manischewitz,” and the boys' ill-fated car “was a big What's-Wrong-with-This scenario.” But while suspenseful, the book comes off as gimmicky, straining too hard to be hip. Both the characters and their motives remain underdeveloped. Ages 14–up. (Nov.)