An Edgy Thriller for Reluctant Readers


Source: Author Website
The Truth by Jeffry W. Johnston (Sourcebooks Fire, 2016, 256pp.)

The last thing Chris Russo remembers is knocking on a girl’s front door to take her to a party. When he wakes up, he’s tied to a chair in someone’s basement. What’s worse, the kidnapper that confronts him is an angry, garden shear-wielding teen named Derek.

He and Derek have met before. A week prior, something happened that ended with Chris shooting a 13-year-old boy to death. Derek, the boy’s older brother, reached out to him for answers. When Chris avoided him, Derek turned to kidnapping. Now, Chris must answer: why is Derek’s brother dead? Over the course of the novel, Chris tries to explain to Derek—and the reader—what led to that fatal encounter.

Although the characters aren’t particularly vibrant, and the storytelling a bit simplistic (with chapters alternating between “Now”—during Chris’s interrogation—and “Then”—before the shooting), Johnston still does a good job at entertaining. Opening with a scene guaranteed to grab any reluctant reader by the throat, the novel ends with a final plot twist that turns the story completely on its head. This title contains mature themes, and includes scenes of threatened torture and use of firearms. Although the violence in this thriller isn’t explicitly graphic, it limits my recommendation to older teens, ages 16-18.

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