cover image Three Quarters Dead

Three Quarters Dead

Richard Peck, Dial, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3454-8

Peck never writes a book that is less than a page-turner, and this paranormal horror story captures the extremes of joy and dread, belonging and ostracism that are the core of the high school experience. Fifteen-year-old Kerry Williamson is new at prestigious suburban Pondfield High and doesn't expect much. Her status is transformed the day Tanya, Natalie, and Makenzie—the coolest, prettiest junior and senior girls—welcome her into their clique ("I'd moved from reality to a reality show, and what could be better?"), although a place in this charmed circle doesn't guarantee the respect of its rulers. A fatal accident just weeks before prom steals all the magic away—until an impossible text message tells Kerry that, just maybe, not everything has been lost. Kerry's voice is wistful, vulnerable, and would-be sophisticated, and the excuses she gives for her compromises ring both hollow and true. Perhaps because of this realism, the sudden escalation of fantastic horror in the last third of the book comes across as a pat resolution. Nevertheless, the story keeps its hold on readers to the very end. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)