cover image Solitaire


Alice Oseman. HarperTeen, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-233568-5

Sixteen-year-old Tori Spring likes her brothers, her best friend, and that’s about it. According to Tori, her fellow teenagers are mostly “soulless, conformist idiots,” and adults aren’t much better. But when the new term starts, Tori meets Michael Holden, an oddball she finds oddly interesting, and Lucas Ryan, a long-lost childhood best friend (in Year 12, boys can transfer in to Tori’s British all-girls school). She also hears about a website called Solitaire, which traffics in small-scale pranks that escalate into danger. Tori is clearly depressed (her younger brother has an eating disorder and has survived a suicide attempt that Tori feels guilty about), but debut author Oseman wants her crankiness, disdain, and confusion to be charming, which isn’t always the case. While the book’s climax, when Solitaire’s leaders are unmasked and relationships are cemented or mended, is chaotic and predictable, Oseman proves herself a clever, witty writer, and she effectively shows how angry or sad “nice” teens can be, as well as how the internet has infiltrated pretty much every aspect of life. Her sophomore effort will be worth watching for. Ages 13–up. (Mar.)