Sixteen-year-old Calliope Knowles is a self-described bitch, but that word hardly describes her true self, a traumatized young woman who is a ward of the state of Illinois and a clinically diagnosed graphomaniac.   Graphomania is a compulsion to write; Callie writes “for the same reason most of us breathe” (3).  Although she feels like a carnival side show and hates being a slave to the words in her head, the words motivate her to remember. Ever since her father disappeared, Callie has been compelled to write.  Although the authorities don’t believe she killed her father, they do think she knows something about his disappearance andRead More →

That Jennifer Lynn Barnes has advanced degrees in psychology, psychiatry, and cognitive science is obvious in her new book, The Naturals, a book sure to appeal to readers like me who enjoy television programs like Criminal Minds and Cold Case. The book stars seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes, who describes herself as odd: “odd-looking, oddly quite, always the odd one out” (17).  While “other kids spent their preschool years singing their way through the ABC’s” (9), Cassie was learning a different alphabet: the BPE’s, tricks of her psychic mother’s trade: behavior, personality, environment.  When her mother is murdered, Cassie ends up in Colorado with her loud extendedRead More →

At the core of its plot, Erased by Jennifer Rush features psychological and genetic engineering that erases important memories and plants false ones in the void.  Four of the experimental group teens manage to escape the Branch lab.  Anna, unable to let go of the past, is on the run with loyal and noble Sam, the irritatingly adorable Cas, and Nick, “a shark masquerading as a panther” (19).  The Branch has been using biotechnology to turn teens into weaponry, and the four have received genetic alterations and programming to turn them into a team of assassins, with Anna as the leader. Hunted by the Branch,Read More →