Sean Olin lives in New York. Brother/ Sister is his first title for Razorbill UK.
Sean Olin was born and raised in Wisconsin, where he grew up listening to blues records with his dad, and reading detective novels. He started writing when he was a kid - his first story was about dinosaurs, but these days his material is a little darker. When he's not exploring the nightmarish side of teenage life, he's riding his bike or watching film noir. These days Sean is either trying to invent new ways to excite lovers of suspense and thrillers, or he's wandering around New York, waiting for adventure.
Olin (Killing Britney) never quite approaches the lurid level of taboo that the title, tagline ("Just give them a chance to explain"), and cover art suggest, but an escalating crime spree and two unreliable narrators ought to hold readers' attention. Siblings Will and Asheley are both outcasts, although Asheley, with her surfer boyfriend and membership on the softball team, is clearly the better adjusted of the two. Their alcoholic mother's frequent trips to rehab don't help their social status, and it's during one of these stints that they decide to throw a party. When Asheley's boyfriend, Craig, assaults her, Will steps in, with fatal consequences. They cover up their actions-and the consequences of that choice, as well as Will's escalating and creepy jealousy over his sister, lead to more danger for the siblings and those around them. Olin adeptly captures two distinct and occasionally contradictory teenage voices, subtly establishing their untrustworthiness, but neither the book's setup (two teens providing hours of minutiae to Mexican police) nor a last-sentence twist serves the story well. Ages 14-up. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Gr 9 Up-Asheley and Will are essentially alone in the world. Their alcoholic mother is in rehab, and her pothead boyfriend is an occasional (and hungry) presence, showing up only at mealtimes. In alternating first-person chapters, the teens tell the story of how their unstable family contributes to Will's unraveling-and murder of three people. Both of their narratives take the form of confessions to the police. They are monologues peppered with the phrases "I don't know" and "you know?" The writing is strong and the voices realistic, but it may take readers several chapters to adjust to this disjointed style. Early on, Will asserts that he will "explain" everything that happened so readers can understand why he killed. However, when they learn that his sexual obsession with his sister is the motivation for the crimes, most readers will feel even more alienated from him. Will is too deranged a character to be a hero, and remains as enigmatic at the end as in the beginning. Throughout the book, Asheley is portrayed as a victim of circumstance, although her final departure from Will is a victory worth cheering for. Adults won't find many surprises in the plot, but teens might find the twists shocking. This is a book about a world as raw and ugly as can be-which, for some teenagers, will be its appeal.-Jess deCourcy Hinds, Bard High School Early College Queens, Long Island City, NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.