First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy (review)
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Reviewed by
Sirowy, Alexandra First We Were IV. Simon, 2017 [448p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-7842-7 $18.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-7844-1 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R* Gr. 7-10

Izzy, Graham, Viv, and Harry are a team of outcasts, too smart and too weird for their classmates but perfectly suited to one another. Fearing that they’ll drift apart post high school, Izzy leads them to form a secret society called IV that performs pranks that will make memories and seal them together with the power of secrets. IV’s pranks hit a nerve of rebellion and restlessness among their peers, and soon others were use the tag for their own minor crimes, while the popular kids made a bid for membership. Dizzy with power, the four open their ranks, with ultimately disastrous results. Despite the various compelling plot points that keep the pages turning, this is largely a character-driven story that explores the ripple effects of various griefs and traumas suffered by the four friends. They focus their message-laden pranks on avenging an unsolved murder of a girl, citing adult corruption as their target, but Izzy is also reeling from the knowledge of her father’s affair, Viv and Harry from the relentless bullying of their classmates, and Graham from his mother’s indifference to him. Narrated by Izzy, the book begins with the death of one of the four, but, Izzy aside, the mysteries of who dies as well as who is responsible for the girl’s death remain tantalizingly ambiguous until the end. Hand this to readers who like their mysteries dark and deep, with strongly developed characters and stunningly good prose.

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