A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Teens who enjoy this book will look forward to the next installment, Red Glove. Could encourage some good discussions about violence and its impact on readers. See our "What to Talk About" section for some specific ideas.
This has some pretty classic good versus evil stuff as Cassel tries to find out what's happening to him -- and what happened to the love of his life.
Positive Role Models
Most of the characters in this novel are manipulators who cannot be trusted, but Cassel is different. When something doesn't add up, Cassel does all he can to trace his steps and make things right. He is loyal, loving, and forgiving to his family and friends.
Violence & Scariness
Guilt-ridden characters self-mutilate; people beat one another up in descriptive and graphic bloodshed fist fights; characters use knives and guns. There are discussions of characters who have been murdered. A character is physically abusive to Lila and tries to kill her.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Cassel's longtime love Lila exudes sexuality and is extremely flirtatious. It's hinted at that people are having sex. Passionate kissing takes place between couples.
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Name-calling such as "idiot" and "moron." There are also derogatory remarks such as "blow me."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Most of the characters drink alcohol. The main character's granddad is an alcoholic who frequently drinks until he passes out. People smoke cigarettes and a stranger does "a line of coke" in the bathroom at a party. There is a reference to kids doing LSD. However substance abuse is not glamorized and there are consequences for those who use.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this series starter features violence that is disturbing at times. Some characters self-mutilate as an act of penance for wrongful deeds. The main character, Cassel is manipulated into killing others. He is repeatedly belittled and betrayed by his brothers and a close family friend who use physical and emotional abuse to get him to do things he doesn't want to do. Most of the characters drink alcohol. The main character's granddad is an alcoholic who frequently drinks until he passes out. People smoke cigarettes and a stranger does "a line of coke" in the bathroom at a party. There's a reference to kids doing LSD.
Is It Any Good?
This wonderful mystery writer with a wild imagination offers a compelling story of love, betrayal, and trust. Readers will feel both anxiety and empathy for characters who are taken advantage of. Although her novel starts slowly, it accelerates toward the book's conclusion with unexpected surprises. There is a lot of plot to follow here, and the narrator's memory loss makes following the story even more challenging. But teens willing to do a close reading will be rewarded. They will feel their adrenaline rush as each chapter takes an unforeseen turn -- and anxiously await the next installment, Red Glove.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.