Lia (short for Amelia) Finch is the surviving asthmatic twin of a sister who died in very early infancy. She lives in comfortable circumstances with her widowed mother in Chicago. Her father, a successful prosecuting attorney, was murdered in a violent attack by the Swarm, a large group of young people who periodically gather in the city to attack and kill people, seemingly at random. At the time of his murder, Lia’s dad was carefully building a case to expose the underpinnings of the group, but after his death the investigation was dropped. Understandably, 16-year-old Lia is determined to find out what was going on that led to her father’s death in order to bring the guilty to justice. She’s a smart and pretty fearless girl, and, using her father’s clues, she begins to make progress. This puts her life in danger, her mother’s life in danger, and leads to the gruesome death of her best friend.
The writer is good at grabbing the reader’s attention from the get-go. Eventually the motivations and links become clear. Not to be too big of a grouse, here, but it boils down to the rather humdrum saga of conniving-businessmen-using-heavy-muscle-to-get-what-they-want. At the end of the story SOME people are brought to justice, but it seems plain there is more evil yet to be uprooted. Maybe a sequel is planned. Although it is an entertaining read, I found it just a tad superficial and disappointing.
There are two very mild instances of bad language. There is a lot of violence and threatened violence, with innocent people being beaten viciously to death. There is romance and attraction but no sex. There are good and bad, helpful and unhelpful adults, but–as expected in Young Adult books–the teenagers are pretty much equal to and as capable of handling their problems as the grown-ups.
There are four unnecessary pages of author’s acknowledgements at the back of the book. I wish writers would let the works stand on their own and save this mushy stuff for websites or elsewhere. No one at the Oscars would get away with this kind of speech, and this is not an Oscar-caliber book.
Categories: Bullying, Crime, Death and Grieving, Depression, Diversity, Grief, Mental Health, Mysteries, Parent Conflict, Peer Relationships, Political Activism, Political Terrorism, Racism, Social Disorders, Violence