This distinctive, frightening YA novel from debut author Vincent Tirado will leave readers exhilarated and eager to learn the horrifying secrets of the Echo.
Sixteen-year-old Afro-Latine Bronx native Raquel, has heard about the multiple disappearances of young people in her neighborhood. It becomes personal when her childhood friend and secret crush Charlize receives a terrifying call from her cousin, Cisco, begging for help with "the game--the challenge." Then he's gone and Raquel's nurse mom, who saw Cisco before he disappeared, is comatose in the hospital with black mold spreading through her body. When Raquel and Charlize hear about the underground challenge called the Echo Game, they know it must be the game to which Cisco referred. Determined to find answers, the two decide to play. But the Echo is dangerous and has very specific rules. When Charlize disobeys the Echo's rules, Raquel must figure out how to save Charlize from the Echo's clutches.
Tirado's novel builds off the period during the 1970s when "the Bronx was burning": landlords set fire to apartment complexes for money and tenants were forced to live in terrible conditions with black mold and rat infestations. Though the author's novel is steeped in horror, it is actually a love letter to the Bronx--they impressively build an alternate Bronx that is eerie and lively, terrifying but vibrant. Places that didn't make it through the 1970s still exist in Echo Bronx and the real-life terrors that people experienced during the 1970s are magnified as giant bugs or a malevolent force known as the Slumlord. Burn Down, Rise Up celebrates the Bronx and its people while also discussing and honoring its troubled history. --Kharissa Kenner, children's librarian, Bank Street School for Children