After the first senior messily explodes in New Jersey's Covington High School, panic ensues and theories circulate. Suicide bomb? Terrorists? Drugs? Virus? The power of negative teenage emotions? But after the second, third and fourth students blow up, everybody's pretty sure it's spontaneous combustion.

Mara Carlyle, a Covington senior who has the misfortune of witnessing the first several incidents, is understandably anxious about being next, although her snarkiness remains intact: "[T]o understand my story, you're going to have to get to know at least a few people, including a few who blow up." As students continue to explode, the senior class is rounded up, medically evaluated and quarantined. The FBI is called in. ("[H]er name was Carla Rosetti and how could she not be an ass-kicking federal agent with a name like that?") Meanwhile, Covington's seniors are faced with abrupt and brutal answers to the questions they're only supposed to be starting to pose: what does it mean to say good-bye, to grow up, to love and lose someone? The surviving students must deal with the situation in their own ways, be it through nihilism, drugs, falling in love, sex, amateur detective work, epic funerals or, in Mara's case, all of the above.

Aaron Starmer's (the Riverman Trilogy) wickedly funny and wrenching novel is surprisingly empathetic, especially for teens who don't mind a bit of gore and lust with their existential crises. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Powered by: Xtenit