cover image The Lost Causes

The Lost Causes

Alyssa Embree Schwartz and Jessica Koosed Etting. KCP Loft, $17.99 (344p) ISBN 978-1-77138-844-3

In this underwhelming paranormal thriller, set in Colorado, five troubled high school students—Zelda “Z” Chapman, Andrew Foreman, Gabby Dahl, Justin Diaz, and Sabrina Ross—come together during a supposed group therapy meeting, where they are told that their files indicate that they’ve been “deemed lost causes by everyone around [them].” That’s harsh, but it’s soon revealed that the FBI has recruited the teens to find the killer of former agent Lily Carpenter. They’ve also been given a serum that has unlocked powers within them, including psychokinesis and the ability to talk to ghosts. Third-person narration moves smoothly among the characters, but although first-time authors Schwartz and Etting attempt to touch on serious topics such as depression, OCD, and loss through the teenagers’ struggles, the characterizations tend to lack depth and can fall into cliché: the jock ends up with the smart girl, the nerd becomes cool, etc. A twist in the third act and an open-ended conclusion point to a potential sequel, but the intriguing premise isn’t really explored to its fullest. Ages 14–up. [em]Agent: Holly Root, Root Literary. (Sept.) [/em]