cover image Frost


Marianna Baer. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-179949-5

Two private-school seniors are forced to become roommates in Baer's YA debut, which is chilly in more ways than one. Leena is a pill-popping, college-focused, peer counselor who dislikes arty, erratic Celeste. Leena's plan to room with her best friends in the tiny dorm, Frost House, is spoiled when one friend goes abroad, and Celeste is placed in the first-floor spot with Leena because of a broken leg. Celeste's gorgeous brother David is some compensation, but the "drama" that has always trailed Celeste continues. Weird noises, errant breezes, and a closet that Celeste abhors and Leena finds strangely attractive are the starting point, but it's not long before events spiral out of control. It's meant to be horrifying, but although Baer is a competent writer, the problem is lack of feeling. Leena is more interested in explaining (and numbing) her emotions than in experiencing them, and because it's a first-person narrative, visceral characters like Celeste get little stage time. The haunted "history" of Frost House is hinted at with little detail, and the ending wraps up the plot with an unsatisfying third-hand report. Ages 12%E2%80%93up. (Sept.)