cover image Melody Burning

Melody Burning

Whitley Strieber. Holt/Ottaviano, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9327-8

Twilight meets Tarzan in a Los Angeles high-rise in adult author Strieber’s (Communion) disappointing YA debut. After his father is murdered, a boy hides from the killer in an apartment building that is still under construction; he never leaves, growing up to become a feral teenager who lives in the crawlspaces of the now-occupied structure. At 16, he falls in love with a new occupant: pop star/actress Melody McGrath, a troubled young woman with a blossoming career and an abusively domineering mother. Beresford (having named himself for the building he calls home) stalks Melody, who starts out fearing him, then makes an instant 180 and returns his love (“Oh, he was beautiful, he was beautiful, he was gentle and amazing, and he lives in the walls”). Together they contend with Melody’s disapproving mother and the building’s crooked owner, who plans to destroy it for insurance money. The potential of the premise is lost in a sea of flaws: the villain is one-dimensional, the teenage voices are inauthentic, characters’ mood swings are abrupt and implausible, and Melody’s lyrics are downright painful. Ages 12–up. (Dec.)