Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2021) Nominees Round Up, April 3 Edition

One of Us is Next: The Sequel to One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Delacorte Press / Random House Children’s
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
ISBN: 978-0525707967

Bayview High School is no stranger to dead teenagers, blackmail, gossip, and cover-ups. When a new “Truth or Dare” game pops up, it appears someone is trying to keep Simon’s legacy alive. If you choose not to play, a dark truth is revealed. If you choose dare, beware. Things could become deadly.

This highly anticipated sequel is jam packed with intensifying drama and suspense. The large cast of characters includes cultural and LGBTQ+ diversity, and some familiar characters from One of Us is Lying. A content warning is recommended for unwanted sexual advances and bullying. From the first pages, readers are compelled to keep reading this unpredictable twisty page turner. Red herrings abound; readers may THINK they know whodunit, but jaws will drop with the revelations in the last few pages.

Readers who like twisty, suspenseful mysteries will inhale this book. Some readalikes include Slay by Brittney Morris, People Like Us by Dana Mele, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys, and the Pretty Little Liars book series by Sara Shepard. More recent movies with social media and gaming such as Nerve or blackmail such as in Love, Simon complement the old school movie, The Breakfast Club.

–Lisa Krok

Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith
Inkyard Press / Harlequin
Publication Date: Jan. 28, 2020
ISBN: 978-1335016027        

Divya streams her playing of the video game Reclaim the Sun and enjoys managing her growing fan base, plus some financial benefits.  But when she gets big enough to notice, harassment from a group of online male gamers threatens everything she enjoys about gaming.  Divya and her new online friend Aaron decide to fight the harassers at a local gaming convention, despite her being doxed.

Gamergate (the sexist treatment of female gamers by online male trolls) is a thing and this book is anything but a slick overview of harassment. Divya’s pain and bewilderment about why anyone would do this to her are real and pervasive. Con culture and what we are willing to accept to have online lives are under the microscope with Divya as the female “Everyman.”

Fans of the description of gaming and online life in Cline’s Ready Player One, Doctorow’s For the Win, and Kostick’s Epic will recognize an author that can make an online game come alive in print.  Any fan of massive games that allow interaction with others will find the details ring true in this exploration of anonymous online behavior.

Michael Fleming