Burn Down, Rise Up

Sourcebooks/Fire. May 2022. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781728246000.
Gr 10 Up–What are monsters? Does society create monsters or do they plague the earth regardless of what we do? In this book, a 16-year-old from the Bronx named Raquel is determined to find the answers to these questions. For years, kids in the Bronx have mysteriously gone missing without a trace, taken by the monsters. Center to the plot is an urban legend called the Echo Game, which is said to trap people under the city. Raquel and her friends team up when their friend Francisco (the cousin of Raquel’s crush Charlize) is taken and enter a sinister world drenched in the dark past of New York. Tirado drops readers into a suspense-filled, terrifying world. Readers will be immediately struck with alarm, terror, and the feeling that something is about to sneak around a corner. This feeling propels the story forward and builds tension that does not release until the conclusion. The story holds many secrets, twists, and surprises for readers, touching into the supernatural and merging fiction and reality. This is a fast-paced, psychologically engaging, and terrifying novel that takes everyday traumas such as slumlords and racism and personifies them as monsters. There is Black and Latinx representation among the characters.
VERDICT Readers will be on the edge of their seats and will have the chance to explore societal issues in a new way to answer the question “What are monsters?” when reading this book.

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