Death Spiral

Janie Chodosh. Poisoned Pen/Poisoned Pencil, $10.95 trade paper (310p) ISBN 978-1-9293-4500-7
Chodosh’s debut kicks off the Faith Flores Science Mystery series, as well as the publisher’s new YA imprint. In it, she introduces Faith Flores, a Philadelphia teenager reeling from the recent death of her heroin-addicted mother. Certain that her mother didn’t actually die from an overdose, the 16-year-old investigates the experimental treatment program she was on up until the end. When another member of the program dies in a similar fashion, and the people she’s talking to start perishing in suspicious ways, Faith knows she’s on to something. With the help of her friends, including best friend Anj and possible love interest Jesse, Faith risks all for the truth, which leaves her marked for death as well. Chodosh spins a dark and gritty tale set amid the seedy underbelly of urban Philly, and her protagonist is resourceful and grounded, despite deep-rooted traumas, insecurities, and other flaws. The science, which involves gene therapy and disease manipulation, is plausible, though the plot is straight-up conspiracy theory. Sharp characterization and deft descriptions make this a solid addition to the amateur detective shelf. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/17/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
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