Even If We Break

Sourcebooks/Fire. Sept. 2020. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781492636113.
Gr 9 Up–With a beginning worthy of a horror movie, five teenagers arrive at a deserted cabin on a supposedly haunted mountain intending to spend the weekend enjoying their long-standing role-playing game. The five, once good friends, have drifted apart, but with graduation near they decide to get together one more time, perhaps to mend some of the brokenness. They are all “Wonder Bread white” but otherwise a varied group: Liva, the rich owner of the cabin; Carter, the one who wants to escape town and become the rich man he thinks he deserves to be; Finn, a transgender boy living with arthritis; Ever, the non-binary leader of the game; and Maddy, who is bisexual, autistic, and an injured athlete. The game starts well, at least until Liva disappears, leaving a bloody room and a finger on the windowsill. The terror continues as secrets are revealed, lives are put in danger, and those who remain must decide whether to trust each other. With movie-style pacing, the plot carefully unravels relationships and plans for the weekend as the remaining characters are targeted. While the characters are distinct and unique, they are also fairly well-rounded and developed with their differences being only part of their characterization. The fast pace of the action slows down when three of the characters escape the cabin and head back down the mountain, deep in conversation that, at times, seems a little forced and out of character. While the climax might be predictable for some readers, it does not detract from the overall atmosphere of the book.
VERDICT A thriller with appeal for a variety of readers.

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