cover image Rundown


Michael Cadnum / Author Viking Books $15.99 (168p) ISBN 978-0-

Readers will likely be both fascinated and repelled by the intricate web of deception woven by the 16-year-old narrator of this sometimes confusing psychological drama. Cadnum (Heat) shows rather than tells Jennifer's desperate need for affection and attention when she meticulously fakes an attack by a serial rapist, then reports it to the police. Her story about fending off the man gains her publicity and sympathy, but instead of feeling gratified, she suffers pangs of guilt and moments of panic. Her twisted relationships with her highly successful parents, her self-centered older sister and her ex-boyfriend are slowly revealed, providing insight into her personality. During the investigation of the case, Jennifer is terrified of being found out. At the same time, she longs to be freed from her lies. The author uses bold, dramatic strokes to paint a haunting portrait of his protagonist and, in his characteristically elliptical style, leaves plenty of blank space for readers to fill in. But while the pacing is as taut as ever, the narrative lacks the cohesion of Cadnum's best works--readers may wish that the author had shaded in some of the gaps. Ages 12-up. (June)