Blood on the Beach - Sarah N. Harvey and Robin Stevenson

Eight teens are dropped off on a remote west-coast island for a week-long treatment program called INTRO (Into Nature to Renew Ourselves). The story is told by two of them: Alice, whose police-officer mother believes Alice might have a substance-abuse problem, and Caleb, who assaulted his abusive stepfather. They are joined by six other miscreants and three staff: a psychologist, a social worker and an ex-cop. On the first night, one of the girls disappears from her cabin. There is a panicked search of the island, but she is nowhere to be found. The adults seem oddly ineffectual in dealing with the crisis—and then the ex-cop gets sick and dies. The radio has been sabotaged, and there is no way to call for help. When the social worker also becomes ill, the kids decide to take matters into their own hands and track down the killer.

I'm a bit biased since I know both Harvey and Stevenson, however I still think I'm able to judge the book with a bit of an objective lens. So fun! I thought Blood on the Beach was an enjoyable and intriguing book. The characters themselves were pretty well developed, and the voices of the two protagonists were distinct enough that I didn't find myself trying to remember which of them was narrating any particular chapters. The mystery was compelling, and I didn't see all the twists either, which was great!

I did find myself wondering about the logistics of the overarching premise, however. I know the setup for these types of mysteries are often a bit more far-fetched because otherwise the answers would be found much too easily and the tension wouldn't exist in the same way. But I just found myself wondering what kind of camp for delinquent youth would actually be allowed to function on a remote island without access to a motorized boat of their own, and only supervised by three adults, in the first place. Like I say, I get why it has to be this way for the plot to play out, but it's still a bit of a head-scratcher.

BUT, all that being said, I still found myself getting caught up in the characters, the motivations, the guessing of who was lying and who was telling the truth, and wondering what the answer(s) would finally be (or if there would even be one.) The authors each bring their own style and expertise to the characters they create, and the alternating perspectives keep the storytelling from becoming monotonous or too heavily reliant on an outside voice or a single character's experience.

All in all, I think I'd definitely Recommend this one to teen readers, even to more reluctant readers, and adults who like a really solid thriller.

Also, kudos to the cover designer, Teresa Bubela, for creating a really deliciously creepy first impression!


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