The Lost Causes
The Lost Causes
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Annotation: Placed in a support group together by a mysterious doctor, five psychologically challenged teens are given an experimental drug that induces psychic abilities before being recruited by the FBI to solve a grisly murder that has rocked their hometown.
Catalog Number: #148330
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 341 pages
Availability: Out of Print
ISBN: 1-7713-8844-7
ISBN 13: 978-1-7713-8844-3
Dewey: Fic
Dimensions: 24 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Five high-schoolers with nothing in common except for the fact that they are "lost causes" are shocked when they are invited to attend a group-therapy session. The problem? The woman is not their school counselor, and the water they just drank has given them all special abilities, such as talking with ghosts, telekinesis, and reading minds. The woman is an FBI agent who needs their help to solve a gruesome murder with no clues to go on, and the fate of the world rests on their ability to find the killer before he sells a serum e one that gave the teens their newfound powers o the highest bidder. While the plot and the science behind it are pure fluff, Etting and Schwartz have written a compelling page-turner with well-developed characters many readers will see bits of themselves in. Readers will either love or hate the sneaky twist ending, but it is nicely wrapped up with no drastic loose ends and potential for a sequel if the demand is there. A solid addition to mystery collections.
Horn Book
FBI agents, under the guise of clinical therapists, invite five outcast teens to a therapy group. In actuality, the teens are recruited to help solve a murder involving a former agent and a serum that bestows psychic powers. Drugged with the same serum, the teens use their new powers to investigate the crime. Despite over-the-top plotting, this thriller is a fast-paced, entertaining read.
Kirkus Reviews
After a drug replaces their mental ailments with psychic gifts, a group of written-off teens must use their new abilities to solve a murder.An ostensible group-therapy meeting brings them all together: Z (depressed, white, rich girl), Sabrina (addicted to pills, biracial Japanese and African-American, incredibly beautiful), Andrew (hypochondriac, white), Gabby (OCD, white), and Justin (anger problems, Latino, star football player). Instead of the school counselor, they're met by people claiming to be clinical therapists starting a new program for those whose parents have given up on them completely—information they share with the teens. The next morning, psychic gifts show up: retrocognition (object-triggered visions of the past), supermath, clairaudience (hearing others' thoughts), psychokinesis (moving things with the mind), and communicating with ghosts. The therapists reveal themselves as FBI agents who've given the teens a secret serum so they can use their new abilities to solve a murder—that of an ex-FBI agent and the serum's inventor, whose serum stash is missing. The teens enjoy their gifts and the sense of direction that the mission gives them, as well as reprieve from their issues, until a teen ghost warns them not to trust the agents. The well-executed, fast-paced mystery plot turns slightly creepy with a romantic storyline between one of the teens and an FBI agent; though he's young at 22, the subplot lays a skeevy coating over the fun. The ending teases a sequel. A campy, popcorn read. (Science fiction/thriller. 13-18)
Publishers Weekly
In this underwhelming paranormal thriller, set in Colorado, five troubled high school students-Zelda -Z- Chapman, Andrew Foreman, Gabby Dahl, Justin Diaz, and Sabrina Ross-come together during a supposed group therapy meeting, where they are told that their files indicate that they-ve been -deemed lost causes by everyone around .- That-s harsh, but it-s soon revealed that the FBI has recruited the teens to find the killer of former agent Lily Carpenter. They-ve also been given a serum that has unlocked powers within them, including psychokinesis and the ability to talk to ghosts. Third-person narration moves smoothly among the characters, but although first-time authors Schwartz and Etting attempt to touch on serious topics such as depression, OCD, and loss through the teenagers- struggles, the characterizations tend to lack depth and can fall into cliché: the jock ends up with the smart girl, the nerd becomes cool, etc. A twist in the third act and an open-ended conclusion point to a potential sequel, but the intriguing premise isn-t really explored to its fullest. Ages 14-up. Agent: Holly Root, Root Literary. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-ive seemingly disconnected teens are thrust together unwittingly by the FBI to help solve the recent murder of former agent Lily Carpenter. Sabrina, Justin, Gabby, Andrew, and Z are unknowingly drugged with a serum so powerful that each develops special telekinetic powers; thus, the Lost Causes is born. With the advent of these new abilities, each of the teens is gifted with the self-importance and belonging they crave, even if they didn't know it. Patricia, the lead FBI investigator, requests the teens' help, not just with Lily's murder, but also with the retrieval of Lily's store of that same serum, now missing at the hands of her killer. Using these powers of deduction to investigate, the teens are naturally suspicious of Patricia and her partner, Nash. What is Patricia's true connection to Lily? How much does Nash really know about the serum and the FBI program that developed it? The teens must find the killer and reclaim the serum before they are next in line for murder. Although there are some unbelievable plot points, readers will want go along for the ride. The ending begs for the inevitable sequel and will have teens anticipating the next book. VERDICT Recommend to fans of "The Naturals" series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes and Kami Garcia's Unbreakable.Michelle Foster, North Caroline High School, Ridgely, MD
Voice of Youth Advocates
Five high school “lost causes,” teens whose parents and teachers have given up on them, are recruited by the FBI to solve a murder. Purportedly summoned to a group therapy session by the school psychologist, they are actually, unbeknownst to them, given a serum that enhances an individual’s powers—such as strength, seeing the future, and reading minds—while at the same time, alleviating their “issues”—such as aggressive behavior, desire for drugs, etc. Given the option to bow out of the investigation and return to “normal,” they each agree to go forward with the FBI. After being lied to on multiple occasions by their managers, they ultimately are told that the murder victim was an FBI agent who had in her possession other doses of the serum, which have disappeared. The worldwide impact, if delivered into the wrong hands, could be devastating. When one member of the group sees a ghost telling her not to trust their FBI handlers, the group begins investigating on its own. The Lost Causes, written by two television and film writers, reads exactly like a TV show or movie. There is action, romance, super powers, and an unbelievable plot. The book is short on character development and descriptive writing. The ending is somewhat of a surprise. This book is true recreational reading and feels like the first installment of a new series. Fans of characters with super powers also might try Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Power series.—Edward Goldberg.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (8/1/17)
Horn Book (8/1/18)
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (8/1/17)
Word Count: 94,242
Reading Level: 5.6
Interest Level: 9-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.6 / points: 15.0 / quiz: 199348 / grade: Upper Grades
Lexile: HL780L

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.

Compulsively readable, The Lost Causes sweeps readers into the place where science fiction and mystery meet, ending on a drop-dead cliffhanger that will leave them longing for more.

Jessica Koosed Etting and Alyssa Embree Schwartz have written extensively for TV and film. Their YA series Georgetown Academy was released in ebook format by interactive publisher Coliloquy (since sold to Vook) and has built a strong following on Wattpad, with over 1.3 million reads and over 12,000 followers.

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