Last Things

416p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. May 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062875068.
Gr 8 Up—High school senior Anders Thorson is a heavy metal star in his small town, but keeping his music "pure" becomes difficult when a famous reviewer calls him a prodigy and predicts a deal with a major label. Anders knows his skills suddenly improved after an expensive Ibanez guitar was given to him by a stranger, and he senses that something isn't quite right with the way new songs come to him as finished pieces. New to their small Minnesota town and niece of a woman branded a witch by locals, Thea is fixated on Anders, never missing his performances at a local coffeehouse. Chapters alternate between the narratives of Anders and Thea, her superhuman skills and obsession with Anders contrasting with his ecstasy and torture around music. Soon after Anders turns down a lucrative recording contract, a car veers into the river and his girlfriend goes missing. The action escalates like the fast-paced chords of a heavy metal bassline when everything Anders loves is threatened. West's background as a poet is evident in Anders's lyrics that reflect the plot: "Apologies/don't mean a thing/when the injuries don't end/Weigh my heart, tear it apart/Don't forgive me/Don't forget." What survives in a contest between fame and freedom might be the last choice for the protagonist.
VERDICT Hand this worthy addition to any YA collection to fans of mystery, music, and horror.

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