The Lost Causes by Jessica Koosed Etting & Alyssa Embree Schwartz
Published by Kids Can Press, expected September 2017
Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
The Lost Causes has so many of my favorite tropes wrapped up in one book. I’m such a sucker for ensemble casts, like three or more main characters and I’m in. I love teen powers as long as it’s not “This one kid is the chosen one!” And I love friendship stories, especially unlikely friendships! This book doesn’t disappoint.
They’re the kids that no one knows — or no one wants to know. The rich depressive, the OCD chick, the hypochondriac, the drug abuser, the athlete with anger management issues. All chosen for intensive group therapy because they’re out of other options. They’re lost causes, the therapist tells them. She promises this support group will help them heal.
There’s only one problem. She’s not a therapist. And that water she offers? It contains a dangerous serum that gives each of the kids a psychic power.
Suddenly, they can think clearly, speak to ghosts, see the past, even move objects with their mind. Their earlier problems have vanished, but their new freedom comes with a price.
Sabrina, Gabby, Z, Justin and Andrew are to help the FBI solve the grisly murder that has rocked their small town. Their new powers will help them uncover clues and follow leads that have eluded the authorities. Their outsider status gives them the perfect cover.
But the same traits that make them top investigators also make them vulnerable. As they close in on the murderer, they expose a much larger conspiracy that puts them directly in harm’s way and makes them wonder who — if anyone — they can trust.
Are so fun! This to me has a Heroes vibe (before the show became unbearable), or even more accurately, Misfits (also before it became unbearable). I LOVED Misfits, and this is like a book version of that! So cute.
I also think the powers given to the kids are cool. I was surprised by one being able to see ghosts, for example. It seems almost out of place, even for a story about kids with powers. But I think it works really, really well here.
Are so great. I love them all. Each of the five self-titled “Lost Causes” has their own distinct background and reason for being a kid whose parents have given up on them.
I thought the kids would blend together, or become too much like set archetypes, but they all broke the mold pretty quickly! I knew their names/backstories/powers within the first few chapters, which for me says a lot because I have trouble keeping it straight with ensemble casts unless everyone is really different.
The teens feel so realistic. They often behave in annoying but so teenager-y ways and I love it.
I rooted for both romances in the story, even squealing out loud when one came to fruition.
I LOVE stories about friendship, and I especially adore stories about unlikely friendships. It’s my favorite thing about shows like Misfits, and it was what saved One Of Us Is Lying for me. Here, I really enjoyed watching the kids get to know each other. There isn’t cattiness or jealousy among the girls, because they’ve wanted a friend so badly and now they have each other. I love it.
Also worth noting, especially the farther we go along, we get a humanization of the villains, and I always find that so spectacular. I love having an antagonist I simultaneously hate and feel bad for.
The pacing is spot on. I started the book this morning and finished this afternoon, taking breaks here and there to play with my dog and talk to my kiddo, but the book was never far away, and I would have been truly disappointed if I’d had to walk away from it for any prolonged time today. The kids really draw you in, and the plot unfolding holds interest.
I think the powers are written really well, especially the ghost scenes which are nice and creepy! I would have been freaked out if I’d been reading at night, and that’s really all I want from a ghost scene.
The end was tied up a little too neatly for me, but then the last few sentences are a cliffhanger so yay! I would love to read another in this series.
Is really cool, I didn’t see it coming. Really, it’s a series of twists and turns and it’s so delightfully unsettling. I love not knowing who to trust, and I love that for the last third or so of the book, I was totally out of my element with no idea what to expect!
And the cliffhanger especially, oh boy. I am so stoked for whatever is coming.
Is that considering I didn’t know what to expect (books like this can really, really go either way), I really enjoyed this! I read it more-or-less in one sitting.
Also, it’s not important to me, but it may be to you, this is a decently clean read for a YA about misfits. No cursing, no sex. There is some reference to drug use, but only very early on.
*Note: My reviews are full of opinions. I may love a book. May want to marry it like the kid in the commercial for Peanut Butter Crunch (1999 was a great year for cereal and commercials, look it up). I may say a book is the best thing to happen to me since I started shaving my big toe. None of these things mean it is objectively good. I recognize that. Many times throughout my life, I have given a book I swore to be a life-changer to a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/balloon animal artist. Shaking, quietly weeping, I’d hand it (and my heart) over. Only to find out several weeks later that for them the book was good, maybe even great, but not the life-giving, soul-renewing magic I’d purported. You may not like a book I recommend. Sue me.
**Please don’t sue me, I just write here.