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Desert Dark

Review

Desert Dark

I can describe Sonja Stone’s DESERT DARK in one word: a rollercoaster. This book as able to keep me hooked for days. In the time I had to review this book, I would read it between class periods, during lunch, on the car ride to school...basically, whenever I could.

DESERT DARK starts off in Nadia’s point of view. The beginning immediately grabs the reader’s attention. The opening scene is filled with action, and the rest of the book goes back in time and explains how the characters got there. It switches from Nadia’s perspective to another character’s in no given order. This way, Stone gives you insight on everyone.

"When reading DESERT DARK you’re constantly on the lookout and can’t set the book down...[Stone] builds suspects and suspense and easily creates dramatic scenes."

When Nadia’s story begins, she is invited to attend a government-funded school for the elite on a scholarship. Her life back home isn’t great, so Nadia takes this as a new beginning. The problem is that Nadia is starting late and the school’s curriculum is very rigorous. The school sits in the middle of an isolated desert in Arizona, surrounded by metal fences and gates. No one unwanted can possibly enter --- probably because the school is actually more than just a school.

Nadia tries to start making friends --- she and her roommate instantly click. She has some trouble with the group she’s assigned to, but it’s nothing too bad. It’s the reason she’s there that throws them off, as Nadia was only invited because someone else left. And by “left,” I mean died. It was made to believe that it was an accident in the form of a car crash. But rumors from the teachers spread, and suspicions reveal that there was no accident. The girl was shot and killed. We know this because the author reveals this in the victim’s point of view, but no one knows who is responsible. There’s a mole in the system, and no one knows who it could be.

One of the suspects is Nadia. It doesn’t help that she finds the diary of the girl who was killed. Now someone wants her dead. With some of her classmates under the impression that she is the mole, it’s up to her to prove them wrong. As I read, I suspected everyone. I would read and say “It’s her! No, him!” You can’t trust anybody. When reading DESERT DARK you’re constantly on the lookout and can’t set the book down. Once you’re in you can’t get out.

Stone does a great job with leading readers to the mole. She builds suspects and suspense and easily creates dramatic scenes. As I said, I was hooked from the start --- but that in no way prepared me for the ending. I almost got whiplash from the plot twist, and it’s at that moment that everything clicked. I would rate this book 5 out of 5. I really hope there’s another one coming out after this --- I need to know what happens!

Reviewed by Hafsah K., Teen Board Member on April 11, 2016

Desert Dark
by Sonja Stone