Never Coming Home

Delacorte. Jul. 2022. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593304860.
Gr 9 Up–Ten teen influencers are invited on an all-expenses paid trip to Unknown Island, a new, exclusive resort generating social media buzz for its air of mystery and curated guest list. Anticipating a week of poolside luxury, the group—which includes an environmental activist, a start-up CEO, a gamer, a TikTok dancer, a beauty vlogger, and a chef, among others—arrives to find no staff, no internet connectivity, and rustic accommodations unlike the glossy promotional images. Feeling as though they have little in common in terms of interests or follower counts, each member of the group wonders why the others were invited. At the first breakfast on the island, they each receive letters accusing them of being murderers. Then, trans beauty vlogger Chelsea Quinn dies of an apparent poisoning and Unknown Island’s feed is updated with a sinister caption that foreshadows additional deaths. As the teens scramble to identify the killer in their midst and seek ways to escape the island, they are picked off one by one. While references to current social media platforms and celebrities will date the book quickly, the And Then There Were None–inspired thriller nevertheless offers a fun, atmospheric murder mystery with a hook that will appeal to reluctant readers. The group is somewhat racially diverse, and point of view characters are easily differentiated in their narration, although character development is otherwise limited and superficial.
VERDICT A summery, social media–focused murder mystery with light gore, perfect for fans of the “#MurderTrending” series or the work of Karen M. McManus.

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