cover image The Bad Ones

The Bad Ones

Melissa Albert. Flatiron, $19.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-250-89489-2

Four seemingly unconnected individuals vanish from suburban Illinois in this sinuous, horror-tinged YA fantasy from Albert (Our Crooked Hearts). Teen best friends Nora Powell and Becca Cross have been estranged for months, but when Becca texts “I love you” and nothing else late one night, Nora runs over to check on her. She returns home angry after waiting for hours on the Cross family’s porch, where she found an abandoned drink and Becca’s phone. Upon learning that three people went missing overnight, Nora panics, believing the disappearances are related to Becca’s sudden radio silence. Then she starts finding clues left for her—ostensibly by Becca—alluding to a dangerous game they played as kids and the fictional goddesses it inspired them to create, leaving Nora with more questions than answers. Albert intercuts Nora’s first-person narration with occasional third-person flashbacks from Becca’s perspective that recount recent pivotal events, cleverly amplifying tension. Though the shaky integration of the supernatural elements leads to a somewhat unsatisfying denouement, Albert successfully evokes adolescence’s fraught hyperreality using richly textured, authentically angsty characters and a storytelling style by turns ethereal and electric. Main characters cue as white. Ages 14–up. Agent: Faye Bender, Book Group. (Feb.)