A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Buzz Kill is a fun addition to the teen mystery genre. Heroine Millie is a smart high school senior and a great model for being yourself and not changing only to conform. For a murder mystery, there's very little violence: The victim's fatal injury is described briefly and without gore. Otherwise there are a couple instances of hitting, and one victim is knocked unconscious. A character's past drug and alcohol abuse is mentioned, and the negative consequences are described. The teens use mild profanity moderately: "Butt" is used frequently, and stronger words such as "ass" and "hell" are used a few times each. The positive messages about making the most of the short time you have and being yourself are very briefly and subtly undercut by reinforcements of gay stereotypes (by pointing out someone's the opposite of the stereotype) and the gender double standard (when Millie fears a bad reputation and feels a bit "sleazy" for kissing her love interest).
What's the story?
There's a long list of people at Honeywell High who might have a reason to want the football coach dead. But when Coach Killdare's body is discovered, the police quickly zero in on Millie's father, the town mayor and assistant coach, as the prime suspect. Convinced of her father's innocence, Millie draws inspiration from her childhood favorite, Nancy Drew, to investigate the murder herself and clear her father's name. The mysterious quarterback Chase, who's definitely hiding something himself, agrees to help Millie get to the truth. With her rival Vivienne throwing obstacles in her path at every turn, Millie will need all the help she can get to solve the crime.
Is it any good?
BUZZ KILL is an enjoyable, if a bit frivolous, teen murder mystery with a structure and formula that follows in the comfortable footsteps laid by Agatha Christie and Carolyn Keene. The heroine, Millie, is smart and quirky, a worthy heiress to her favorite teen sleuth Nancy Drew, who provides the inspiration for her pluck, determination, and resolve.
Teens will easily relate to Millie's struggles with feeling like an outsider. Veteran mystery readers may stay a step or two ahead of Millie, but even those who can spot the red herrings will enjoy author Beth Fantaskey's lively, engaging writing and root for Millie to solve the crime and get the guy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why murder mysteries are so popular. Why do we enjoy reading them so much? What are some of your favorites? How does Buzz Kill compare with your favorites?
Did you solve the mystery before Millie did? If you did, how did you figure it out? If you didn't, how surprised were you when you learned who the murderer was?
Ms. Parkins, the librarian, is a big help to Millie both with books and her personal life. Do you know your librarian? Has he or she ever helped you with a project or a problem?
- Author: Beth Fantaskey
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Great Girl Role Models, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Publication date: May 6, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 368
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.