There’s No Way I’d Die First

Delacorte. Sept. 2023. 304p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593643174.
Gr 10 Up–A gory, edge-of-your-seat, not-for-the-weak, slasher novel for teens. Noelle Layne is on the rise with her horror movie watch parties and social media presence. She’s a champion for Black representation in scary movies and is hoping that hosting the hottest Halloween party yet will give her career enough traction and attention to launch her podcast. With a guest list of the “who’s who” from her high school, she is ready to get on track to go to college to be a film critic. A carefully curated event in her vast home with her influencer friends, each with a different brand of expertise, starts to unravel when the scary clown Noelle hired murders one of her classmates. The jester is out for blood, yet none of the teens knows what his motives are. A high-speed night ensues where everyone is out to save themselves, especially Noelle, who has cracked the horror movie tropes and is doing everything she can to be the “final girl.” This novel is peppered with pop culture references, and each chapter starts with a line from an iconic scary movie. Noelle unpacks a lot of social justice issues as she tries to save herself and her friends from the deranged attacker. An honest conversation on class, privilege, and fame, this book will appeal to both horror addicts and scaredy cats.
VERDICT A solid purchase for high school libraries, especially those where true crime and thrillers circulate well.

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