14 Ways to Die

Sourcebooks/Fire. Jun. 2021. 400p. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9781728231860.
Gr 8 Up–When 17-year-old Jessica Simmons applies to be a contestant on The Eye, a YouTube reality show featuring the daily lives of five young adults, she isn’t searching for internet fame. She’s searching for justice. Jess’s mother was murdered by the Magpie Man when Jess was seven. Now, only guaranteed four episodes on the show, the teen has a limited amount of time to use her new platform to catch a serial killer. She needs to hook viewers’ interest to bring in ratings and remind the world that the killer is still out there. But drawing attention to the unsolved murders means drawing the attention of the killer himself, and Jess quickly learns he may be closer than she thought. An indirect exploration of the effects of Jess’s reliance on social media makes this a timely novel for young adults living so much of life online. Short chapters create and maintain an urgent mood and swift pace, while also allowing for pauses to consider Jess’s grief, guilt, anger, determination, and healing. Though most side characters are one-dimensional, Jess’s relationship with her father is both candid and touching, allowing readers to look past some of the more implausible aspects of the novel, such as her father’s half-hearted attempt to stop her from joining The Eye and the teen’s tendency to place herself in dangerous situations. Characters’ races are unspecified.
VERDICT A solid choice for reluctant readers interested in crime thrillers.

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