Book Review & Blog Tour: Teen Killers Club by Lily Sparks

Happy Friday everyone! I am really excited to be today’s tour stop for Teen Killers Club by Lily Sparks, which is hosted by the amazing team over at Crooked Lane Books.

Teen Killers Club

Author: Lily Sparks

Publication Date: 10 November 2020

Genre: YA Thriller

Pages: 263

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Framed for the murder of her best friend, a young girl joins a super-secret society of teenage assassins to avoid a lifetime behind bars–and discovers her own true self–in this mesmerizing debut novel.

Seventeen-year-old Signal Deere has raised eyebrows for years as an unhappy Goth misfit from the trailer park. When she’s convicted of her best friend Rose’s brutal murder, she’s designated a Class A–the most dangerous and manipulative criminal profile. To avoid prison, Signal signs on for a secret program for 18-and-under Class As and is whisked off to an abandoned sleep-away camp, where she and seven bunkmates will train as assassins. Yet even in the Teen Killers Club, Signal doesn’t fit in. She’s squeamish around blood. She’s kind and empathetic. And her optimistic attitude is threatening to turn a group of ragtag maniacs into a team of close-knit friends. Maybe that’s because Signal’s not really a killer. She was framed for Rose’s murder and only joined the program to escape, track down Rose’s real killer, and clear her name. But Signal never planned on the sinister technologies that keep the campers confined. She never planned on the mysterious man in the woods determined to pick them off one by one. And she certainly never planned on falling in love. Signal’s strategy is coming apart at the seams as the true killer prepares to strike again in Teen Killers Club.

With 2020 being the absolute disaster of a year that it is, sometimes you need an equally WTF type book to jar your numbed senses, which is exactly what Teen Killers Club brilliantly does!

Signal Deere (yep, that’s her name and my only real gripe with the book) was convicted of murdering her best friend and labeled a Class A murderer (the most dangerous and manipulative). In order to avoid life in prison, Signal agrees to join a secret program designed to train Class As under the age of 18 as assassins. Unfortunately for Signal, she’s not actually a murderer unlike her new bunkmates at camp, and it doesn’t take long for everything to go terribly wrong.

This story really takes the fun and excitement of summer camp and turns it into this dark and sinister setting where these teenagers are literally being trained to not only assassinate people but also ensuring that they don’t get caught. If you have a weak stomach and gore bothers you, you may struggle with this one a bit. These teens are literally learning how to properly dispose of bodies, which can range from digging deep trenches to liquefying bones. The writing of this story is incredibly vivid and immersive, and I honestly felt like I was in camp hell alongside the team.

The characters from this story are incredible, and they are the epitome of a rag tag team. Signal is our MC, and she definitely has the most to gain and lose since she can’t remember what happened the night her best friend was murdered, and she doesn’t have the penchant for murder like the rest of the team. Considering there’s a sizeable cast, each of the characters are really well developed and perfectly play out their respective roles. I never thought I’d come to love some of these murderous teens, but alas, here I am.

There is a love triangle in this story, which the author executes really well given the circumstances that these teenagers are faced with. I am not going to go into details, but I definitely appreciated the challenges that were addressed.

The pacing of the book was steady and held my attention. You have the unsolved murder mystery of Signal’s best friend Rose, but you also learn about why each of the teenagers have been sent to this camp and the crimes that they respectively committed. Furthermore, learning about the inner workings of the camp itself was both highly disturbing and fascinating. I never felt like the plot became stagnant. I was definitely engrossed through out.

If you’re looking for a great “escape” read, I definitely recommend this one. It’s one hell of a roller coaster ride packed with plenty of twists, turns, and murderous happenings.

Thank you to Crooked Lane Books for the tour invite and providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

Excerpt

After an endless lecture on foraging and finding water in the woods, Dave tells us we’re free to return to our cabins for some rack time. I fall in beside Nobody. 

“So what do you think of camp?” I ask. 

“Beats a cell.” 

“I’m still angry about how they handled the kill switches.” “I like that we can walk around.” 

“And the obstacle course was brutal.” 

“I came in third.” She sounds proud. 

“The campers here are all insane.” 

“Javier saved your life today.” 

“Yeah . . . he did,” I admit sheepishly, “He seems really nice.” “Watch out for when guys are nice. They’re usually pretending.” “Well, then I guess Erik gets points for openly being a jerk at least.”  

I look over, hoping to get her impression of Erik, but she stares straight ahead. “So, uh, what did you mean yesterday?” I prod. “When you said he marked me?” 

“You ever see a dog piss on a tree?” She looks at me. “Like that. But without him having to piss.” 

Okay. Time to change the subject, I guess. “Did I miss anything good?” 

“Wound assessment. When to make a splint or walk it off. And I spoke with Jada.” Nobody pauses. “She’s . . .” Her gravelly voice breaks off. 

“A raving psycho bitch?” I finish.

      Nobody’s sharp glare registers even through her mask’s small eye holes. There’s a long pause before she goes on. 

“Sometimes trees catch fire at the roots and burn up from the inside.  You can’t tell looking at them. You could walk through a forest with a hundred trees burning like that and there’s not even smoke. But then, if you peel back the bark, you’d see the wood is glowing red, all burning  up inside.” She clears her throat after this rather surprising speech, then continues, “Jada’s burning up on the inside. You want to call that being a psycho bitch, I can’t stop you. Just try not to take her head off, I guess.” 

Oh, that’s right. Nobody thinks I actually decapitated a friend of mine. No wonder she’s playing peacemaker. And from her perspective, what an absolute hypocritical brat I must seem. 

“I’m sorry,” I say. “I shouldn’t have talked behind her back like that.  I promise I’m not a psycho bitch either, okay?” 

“Maybe no one is a psycho bitch,” Nobody grumbles. “Maybe psycho bitches are just people with problems you can’t see.” Maybe she’s right. Maybe we’re all stuck in the details of our complicated, sordid, unseen worlds; maybe we’re all papering over the surface  of ourselves and everyone else with simpler explanations. But it’s never enough to contain us. We break through or we shrink to fit.

“Signal.” Nobody has stopped walking and I slow beside her. “Do you feel that?” She lays one of her long, scarred hands on my arm. Above us, the wind rushes through the leaves with a sound like the tide pulling away from the shore. And I feel it too. Again. 

Someone’s watching us. 

Nobody turns her head just a fraction. “There,” she whispers, her voice low in her throat. “By the pines.” 

Fifty yards ahead of us, framed against a knot of dark pines, is a man in a mask. 

The mask is rubber, white with blue markings, and molded into the face of a smiling bulldog. His arms hang at his sides and he stares right back at us. 

“Probably just another test. Probably just Dave,” Nobody mutters. “It’s not Dave,” I whisper back. “Dave’s not that tall.”

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