Stay Dead

Little, Brown/Christy Ottaviano. May 2024. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316480291.
Gr 9 Up–Sixteen-year-old Milan has been kicked out of yet another boarding school—her third in the six months since her dad, Senator Jack Mayhew, died in a car accident. Her mom, who has since been elected to her husband’s senate seat, has to detour her private plane to pick Milan up in Colorado. As the plane is flying over Oregon’s Cascade Mountains on its way to Portland, disaster strikes. An explosion sends the aircraft plummeting towards the snow-covered peaks. Her mother survives just long enough to tell Milan that her dad’s death and the plane crash weren’t accidents. They were assassinations. Her mom insists that if Milan wants to live she needs to “stay dead.” In turns, the novel follows the stories of Milan, Lenny, her would-be assassin, and Janie, a dairy farmer who leased her land to Prospect Power for natural gas extraction (commonly called fracking). The cat-and-mouse between Milan and Lenny adds a thick layer of tension, especially as Lenny closes in on her target. While Janie’s story can feel contrived, it does provide necessary background on fracking and things come together nicely as the climax looms. Most characters cue white.
VERDICT Perfect for fans of What Beauty There Is by Cory Anderson or Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis.

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