The Dead Enders by Erin Saldin (448 pages)
Overview: Someone is setting Gold Fork on fire. The idillic mountain town for Weekenders and dooming trap for Dead Enders is thrown into chaos by a series of untraceable fires. Four best friends are thrown to the center of it the summer after junior year. Though the town feels chock full of threats and traps, the dangers might be closer than they appear. Overall: 4
Characters: 4 I thought the four friends were interesting, but I wasn't able to emotionally connect with any of them. Erik is misunderstood, stressed, and forgotten by those he loves. Davis is a writer and the richest of the town crew, so he is sometimes resented. Georgie sells the tourists drugs to earn money towards escaping with her band, but it starts to overwhelm her the more she's encouraged to push. Finally, Anna is quiet though consumed in a fight to keep the grandmother she never had, Vera, located in the nursing home in town. Though it is told from all their points of view, none of the voices really developed their own flavor.
Plot: 4 Though it ebbed and flowed in intensity, the plot is what kept me going with this book. Like most summer stories, it offers a roller coaster complete with parties and hook ups to thrill and entertain. Towards the end, Saldin does spike some intensity with the mystery unfolding in the final moments.
Writing: 4 I like how Saldin explored the resort town dynamic and economic differences and how they impact interactions. I feel that was the strongest thing she brought to the table. The sense of place was spot on. Though the characters didn't sparkle, the plot made it a fun, summer read.