Publishers Weekly Review
In a terrifying, timely thriller, six teens work together to survive after becoming trapped in their school following a bombing. Each member of the diverse group-congressman's daughter Diana, biracial and newly out Tad, star athlete Frankie, socially awkward musician Cas, rebellious Z, and Rashid, who wants to be seen as more than just Muslim-has a personal reason for being at school before the semester starts, and it soon becomes clear that one of them is the bomber. Fragile alliances are formed and secrets are revealed, but distrust and paranoia undermine the group's efforts to escape an increasingly deadly situation. In her attempt to maintain ambiguity and mystery regarding the bomber's identity, Charbonneau (Need) withholds a great deal from readers at first, keeping characters' motivations a mystery even when it doesn't make sense to avoid them. However, the high-pressure environment, increasing tension, and enormous stakes make this a gripping story that touches on numerous stressors facing contemporary teens, including suicidal ideation, parental pressure to succeed, and religious profiling. It's a powerful page-turner that doesn't let up until its explosive finale. Ages 12-up. Agent: Stacia Decker, Dunow, Carlson and Lerner. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Gr 8 Up-Six students struggle to survive after a series of bombs explode and trap them in the war zone-like ruins of their high school. Featuring multiple perspectives, this riveting thriller explores the power of prejudice and assumptions through the lens of school violence. It's revealed early on that one of the survivors is also involved in the bombing. From the school's perfect Queen Bee to the tough-as-nails delinquent, each of the students has a different motive for being at school that day. Charbonneau builds suspense by subtly planting red herrings about the accomplice's identity while also raising questions about others. The frequent shifts in perspective allow readers to see beyond each character's stock exterior. While each one has a distinct voice, some narratives are more compelling than others. The most complex and developed character is Rashid, a Muslim teenager who feels he must compromise his family's ideals in order to make his school life easier. Other students are immediately suspicious of Rashid after the initial bomb. While the book confronts this racism head-on and another character is ultimately responsible, the narrative feels stereotypical and exploitative in its casting of Rashid as a would-be terrorist based on his race and religion alone. VERDICT A tense, fast-paced thriller that explores prejudice and stereotypes, sometimes insensitively, in the all-too-real setting of extreme violence at a high school.-Sophie Kenney, Vernon Area Public Library District, IL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Summer is ending, which, for most students, means visits to school for new IDs or early sports practices. No one is expecting the bomb that goes off, devastating the school and trapping a group of students inside. Six students search for a way out: Diana, the perfect girl whose congressman father is pushing an unpopular privacy bill; Frankie, the golden-boy quarterback who hooked up with one of his teammates over the summer; Tad, half white and half black, determined to force Frankie to recognize their relationship; Cas, a clarinet player who can't stand another day trapped in her body; Rashid, a Muslim boy who's tired of being judged for his religion; and recently orphaned Z, trying to rescue a friend seriously injured in the explosion. The stakes are high enough, but the group soon realizes they have bigger problems: the bomber is one of them, and the danger is far from over. Charbonneau (Need, 2015) is no stranger to suspense, and this survival tale delivers. A thriller with a human heart that will have readers holding their breath. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Genre-hopping Charbonneau has a knack for dramatic tension, and this thriller will appeal to her existing fanbase.--Reagan, Maggie Copyright 2018 Booklist