- Even if We Break by Marieke Nijkamp
Nijkamp, Marieke Even if We Break. Sourcebooks Fire, 2020 [320p] Trade ed. ISBN 9781492636113 $17.99 Reviewed from digital galleys Ad Gr. 9-12
In this horror novel, five teens head off to a cabin in the woods for a role-playing weekend; things are already tense between this formerly tight group on the way up to the cabin, and they quickly get worse after the first death. Alliances are tested, secret loves are confessed, vengeance is enacted, and horror tropes abound. Characters take turns narrating, offering bits of insight and self-reflection that make each teen memorable and distinct, and the cast is effectively diverse: there is transgender representation, one teen is non-binary, one character is neurodiverse, another suffers from debilitating arthritis, there are significant class differences, and each character is carefully developed to be complex and multi-faceted. However, the motivations of the far too easily spotted murderer are unsatisfyingly superficial without more explanation into their history, and the quick two murders followed by a bunch of failed murder attempts render the pacing and scare factor disappointingly uneven. Even so, readers looking for a scary read that features diverse characters who aren't all instantly killed off may appreciate this novel.