Natasha Preston. Sourcebooks Fire, $9.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-4926-1852-2
British 16-year-old Scarlett Garner can’t remember her life before age four—not exactly uncommon in itself—but a car accident shakes loose strange dreams about a burning building and a girl named Evelyn, who Scarlett’s parents claim was her doll. Meanwhile, gorgeous new student Noah shows strong interest in getting to know Scarlett. What she doesn’t know is that he was sent by a cult, Eternal Life, which has plans to sacrifice her to gain salvation. Scarlett falls for Noah as planned, but he falls for her, too. Preston’s (The Cellar) story unfolds in chapters that alternate between Scarlett and Noah’s perspectives, clueing readers into Noah’s deception long before Scarlett learns of it. Readers who accept the farfetched premise may still struggle with thinly developed characters, mawkish turns of phrase (“I was hopelessly in love with her—and our love was hopeless”), and dubious decision-making (when Scarlett’s parents finally reveal the truth about her childhood, they do so while Noah, a virtual stranger, is present). Hard to swallow, both as a thriller and a romance. Ages 16–up. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/01/2015
Release date: 08/01/2015
Genre: Children's
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