A steamy, swampy Florida setting and the threat of a repressed memory are two of the elements in Edward Bloor's first young adult novel, Tangerine, that made it an instant suburban gothic classic. His follow-up, Crusader, delves even deeper into the dark side of suburbia, exposing racism, virtual violence, and even murder behind the sunny facade of a Florida strip mall.
Fifteen-year-old Roberta works hard every afternoon and weekend in the family business, a virtual reality arcade in the West End Mall. She keeps her mind off the fact that the arcade is slowly going under and that her father ignores her existence, but she cannot ignore the fact of her mother's brutal murder seven years ago. Roberta's quest to find her mother's killer weaves together several skillfully constructed subplots, including a shady political scheme to ruin the mall, real and imagined hate crimes against an Arab store owner, and how the Crusader itself, a virtual reality game, serves as the catalyst that ignites and unites these seemingly unrelated factors in Roberta's life. Bloor's brooding, densely plotted page turner is an incredibly original novel that will engage teens on several levels. Though it is almost 400 pages long, the nonstop action and many startling revelations will keep teens transfixed until the very last sentence. (Ages 12 and older) --Jennifer Hubert [via]