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A likeable kid in search of his "mojo" also gets caught up in a search for a missing girl in Tim Tharp's suspenseful, thoughtful novel MOJO.

Dylan Jones is the kind of guy who doesn't realize how good he has it. Sure, he attends a second-rate public school in Omaha, Nebraska. And he's carrying around a few extra pounds. And he only really has two friends --- Randy and Audrey. But what Dylan's convinced he really lacks is mojo, which he defines as "Juice. Pull. Clout. Respect." But how is he going to find this elusive mojo?

"Readers will be rooting for Dylan to find his mojo --- and just as importantly, for him to finally see who his true and loyal friends really are."

His friend Audrey suggests that Dylan, an aspiring journalist, could get involved with the investigation into the disappearance of a local girl, Ashton Browning. After all, Dylan --- who at the novel's opening finds a dead body in a dumpster --- seems to have a knack for being in (sort of) the right place at the right time.

When Dylan joins a search party at the park where Ashton was last seen and discovers the missing girl's running shoe, he's off on a quest unlike anything he would have imagined. Ashton attended the local private school, and her friends include people with names like Rowan, Nash and Aisling. Some of these people take a very particular interest in Dylan, and before long, he's involved in a world of limousines and private clubs, of pseudo gangster warfare and designer clothes.

Dylan's surprised that these jet-setters want to be his friend, but he's not as skeptical as his old friends Randy and Audrey. Can Dylan avoid distractions and temptation long enough to solve the mystery of the missing girl? Will he be able to find connections between this kidnapping and the earlier murder? And will he remember who his real friends are...before it's too late?

Tim Tharp's MOJO is a seriously suspenseful mystery that doesn't take itself too seriously. Although Dylan's investigating matters of life and death, readers will find plenty of passages and scenes to be laugh-out-loud funny. There's plenty of suspense and drama in store, too --- readers are likely to be clued in on some characters' motivations before Dylan himself is, but they're unlikely to figure out the true villain(s)' identity much in advance. Readers will be rooting for Dylan to find his mojo --- and just as importantly, for him to finally see who his true and loyal friends really are.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on April 10, 2013

by Tim Tharp

  • Publication Date: April 9, 2013
  • Genres: Young Adult 12+
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0375864458
  • ISBN-13: 9780375864452