cover image Roxy


Neal and Jarrod Shusterman. Simon & Schuster, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-5344-5125-4

Through a high-concept thriller that looks into the opioid crisis, the previous father-son collaborators (Dry) follow two siblings at the center of a deadly wager between two drugs characterized as gods. Confident and alluring Adderall (Addi) and pompous but utilitarian Roxicodone (Roxy) each make a bet that they can get their victim to overdose before the other: blue-haired artist Ivy Ramey, 18, who is nearly failing senior year due to her untreated ADHD, and her charismatic, high-achieving younger brother, Isaac Ramey, a 17-year-old soccer player who dreams of being a propulsion engineer until an off-field injury changes everything. Though the reader knows that one sibling will end up in a body bag tagged “I. Ramey,” the question of who will succumb pulls readers along. Throughout, perspectives shift between Addi, Roxy, and the siblings, giving insight into the motivations of two teens trying to do the best they can with what they have. The Shustermans’ depiction of each sibling’s spiral into dependence and misuse of prescribed medications sheds a critical light on the ongoing drug epidemic, subverting stereotypes about substance abuse while exploring each drug’s potential to help and to hinder. Ages 14–up. (Nov.)