Scholastic. Feb. 2024. 240p. pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781339019949.
Gr 4-7–Simon, 11, is hiding out with his family from his dangerous older sister Rachael, a pyrokinetic who can start fires with her mind in this suspenseful psychological thriller, the sequel to Ablaze. A year and a half ago, Rachael tried to kill her family by burning down their house. This was retaliation for Simon injuring her as he tried to stop her from setting the fires that Rachael blamed on their sister Aly, also a pyrokinetic. Simon can mentally enter people’s minds and push them to do things. When he sees two siblings bullying classmate Lena, called Zombie by everyone because of her expressionless face and slow gait, Simon uses his powers to get them to leave her alone. When he reaches into Lena’s mind he realizes she’s different, like him. She’s a somnipath, able to infiltrate and shape people’s dreams. She helps Simon enter Rachael’s dreams to try to locate her. When they do find her, she’s with others like her—Joyce, an energy parasite, and Colin, a cyberpath—and they want to “own the world.” Will Simon and Lena be able to stop them? Simon’s struggle to understand and use his powers is relatable and his friendship with the shrewd Lena is authentic. Despite a lack of character depth, the family dynamics are well realized, particularly Simon’s complicated relationship with Aly. Characters default to white.
VERDICT The twisty plot, explosive action, sympathetic characters, and scary cover will hook readers, while the open-ended conclusion will ensure they return for the next installment.

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