The Blood Between Us

288p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Harper Teen. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062307910.
Gr 8 Up—When Adrien Dane's adoptive parents are killed in a science lab explosion, he elects to spend his high school years at a San Diego boarding school, far away from his hateful sister, Grace. Returning home at the request of his dying godfather, Viktor, Adrien agrees to finish his senior year at his old school. He promises Viktor and his partner, Julian, that he will bury the hatchet with his sister—but it is easier said than done. Adrien receives mysterious text messages warning about Grace's involvement in their late father's research and complicity in the deadly explosion. Suspense builds, as Grace's vitriolic behavior intensifies. Adrien suffers an attack by bullies and nearly dies in a sabotaged chemistry experiment. The plot is linear and slow to develop, until the dramatic ending, in which a murderer comes forth and a dark family secret is revealed. Leading up to this, readers will be absorbed by large doses of teen angst, the boarding school scene, and Adrien's acknowledgement of his sexual preferences. While Adrien's family members seem a bit wooden, his new roomie Quinn; an old friend, Josh; and his enigmatic lab partner, Caroline, are more layered and contribute to Adrien's development as an empathetic coming-of-age character.
VERDICT The conflicted and angsty teen is far more interesting than the unconvincing murder mystery.

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