Mojo by Tim Tharp
Alfred A. Knopf, 2013
When Dylan's friend Randy eggs on some bullies that throw litter at them from the window of a passing car, Dylan decides to hide in a nearby dumpster... never expecting that he will find the dead body of one of his classmates in there with him!
The police initially treat Dylan as a suspect, and, after a brief period of celebrity at school, he winds up with the nickname "body bag." So when he finds out about a beautiful and rich girl from a nearby private school that has gone missing, he decides to write a series of stories in the school newspaper about the incident in an attempt to increase his social standing.
It appears to be working, for a while, as he gets to know some of the popular friends of the missing girl and is invited to their secret world of "Gangland." But when Dylan begins to suspect that the disappearance of the girl may have something to do with the murder of his classmate, he starts to worry for his own safety as well.
The opening scene of this novel does a great job of pulling the reader in to the story. And though all but one of the rich kids are portrayed as stereotypically shallow and cruel, the plot continues to increase in suspense until the final scene in which the missing girl turns out to be nothing like who everyone believed that she was.
Teens will be quickly taken in by the action of this story and swept along by the glamor and intrigue of the plot, but are likely to feel betrayed by the surprise ending, for which the author provides no foreshadowing.
Tim Tharp lives in Oklahoma where he writes novels and teaches in the Humanities Department at Rose State College. In addition to earning a master's degree in creative writing from Brown University, he has also spent time as a factory hand, construction laborer, psychiatric aide, record store clerk, and long-distance hitchhiker.
Renée Vaillancourt McGrath has worked at Montana Public Radio as a program host since 2002. Her background is in librarianship and she currently works as a freelance editor, blogger, and website developer. Check out more of her book reviews at reneesreads.com.