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288p. Sourcebooks. Feb. 2019. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9781492664611.
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Gr 9 Up—A first-person account of 16-year-old Alden's investigation of the mass murder he witnessed in an abandoned park that resulted in his parents' death. Driven by guilt, Alden investigates the crime. Alden's best friend (and unspoken crush), Charlie, plays the role of sidekick with the convenient police chief father who keeps them in the loop about the police investigation. The writing style and short chapters are consistent, effective, and easy for teens to digest. The suspense novel slows down at times. Speculative dialogue and doubts aren't addressed soon enough and fail to move the plot along. For long stretches, Alden looks for answers, finding nothing substantial. If readers can plod through the sluggish middle, they are rewarded eventually with a believable turning point. Alden's feelings for Charlie are confusing and made more so when he works hard to help victim/villain Amy, but the Alden-Amy relationship isn't developed enough for readers to buy into his feelings for her during the final showdown. Although Alden continuously justifies his creepy spying and rogue decision-making as future private investigator preparation, his many excuses make the behavior even more suspect. The twist at the end is believable, and the clues leading up to the climax are veiled enough to surprise most.
VERDICT Even readers who relate to Alden or empathize for his loss might struggle to connect with his compulsion to follow people. An additional purchase.

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