Not the most inspiring group, but a few deserve some attention!

5.  Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen

What it’s About:  Everyone is stunned when a new girl shows up at Englewood High, who looks just like the girl who killed herself a year before.  This is awkward enough, but the new girl, Laura, just happens to become friendly with a group who seem be hiding a secret about the other girl’s death.

What I Thought:  An intriguing concept but a lot of the book feels forced, especially how Laura and the main guy character seem desperately in love after basically one conversation. There is a big twist, but it feels rather far-fetched and leads up to a cliff-hanger ending, which is a problem since there is no sign of a second book coming.  Honestly, in many ways this book feels like a prequel for the actual story, so I would suggest staying away unless a second book does end up materializing.

4.  Dreamfall by Amy Plum

What it’s About:  Cata takes part in a group sleep experiment that she hopes will cure her insomnia.  But a malfunction quickly lands the patients together in a world made up of their dreams, with no memory of how they got there or any idea of how to get out.

What I Thought:  I don’t know, for a book that takes place almost entirely inside nightmares, it just felt a bit dull.  There is a nice twist, and a reveal that does make me think about picking up the recently released sequel, but it just didn’t grab me like I had hoped it would.

3.  White Rabbit by Caleb Roherig

What it’s About:  It’s bad enough for Rufus when he is forced to spend time with his ex-boyfriend, but then he gets a frantic call from his half-sister April, with whom he has an (at best) complicated relationship.  And when he goes to help her, he finds her with the corpse of her boyfriend, covered in blood and holding a knife.  She begs him to help prove she didn’t do it, and while he doesn’t trust her, he can’t turn down the money she offers for helping her.

What I Thought:  A step up from the other two, but still not a book that is going to stick with me.  The mystery is intriguing, but I didn’t really care about the characters, and was not invested at all in the relationships.  The villain also makes a choice at the end that I didn’t understand, and this choice ultimately leads to their downfall, which left me a bit frustrated.  I will keep an eye out for this author in the future, but this was a mixed bag   

2.  Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau

What it’s About:  Six diverse students are the only ones in school when a bomb goes off.  They struggle together to survive, and then hear a news report which delivers some chilling information.  Apparently, the authorities believe one of the kids stuck inside the school is involved in the bombing.

What I Thought:  Charbonneau’s Dividing Eden series was a “good idea, questionable execution” situation for me, and while Time Bomb is better, it doesn’t quite meet the potential of the premise.  As with White Rabbit, I was engaged with the story, but not so much the characters.  The beginning feels a bit ridiculous, as we get POV from all of the main characters as they head to school, complete with ominous thoughts about what they are going to do.  I get that Charbonneau obviously wanted to make them all seem suspicious, but it feels a bit silly by the end of these passages.  Things get better afterwards, but there is just nothing about the characters that leaps off the page.  And something about the ending feels rather abrupt, and left me wanting something more, or at least something different. 

  1.  Cruel Summer by James Dawson  (now Juno Dawson)

What it’s About:  A group of high school friends reunite to spend summer at a Spanish villa, though the planned months of fun have a shadow lingering over them, the accidental death of one of their group.  And at least one of them is convinced that her death wasn’t an accident at all.  And when the group’s old frenemy shows up claiming to have proof that the death was indeed not an accident, all hell breaks loose

What I Thought:  I was hesitant to even read this one after Dawson’s Hollow Pike was a big disappointment for me, starting out great but taking a left turn and ending up in Blandsville.  Thankfully, this was a much more satisfying read.  It never reaches the heights of the first part of Hollow Pike, but it also avoids the lows of the latter part of the book.  Er, with one exception.  The group is stunned when the think they see their supposedly dead friend, who then disappears.  She shows up again the next day and is just a stranger who happens to greatly resemble the dead girl, which felt really forced.  But that is a very small moment in an otherwise solid read.  As with the other books on the list, the cast is serviceable, but not a group that’ll stick with you.  This won’t join the list of my all time favourites, but I will definitely be more willing to pick up Dawson books in the future!