By Daphne Benedis-Grab
Available now from Merit Press (F+W Media)
Ariel and Sera used to be best friends. Unfortunately, Sera still has to go to Ariel's birthday party because their families are still friends. At least she gets to see rock star Hudson Winters perform at the over-the-top bash. Then the party gets interrupted by a group of armed men. When Ariel disappears, they take the guests hostage - and Sera is the only one who knows where Ariel is hiding.
There's a real sense of danger in THE GIRL IN THE WALL. People die throughout the novel, beginning to end. The girls work to keep the body count down, but they're just two unarmed teenagers. I liked the way Daphne Benedis-Grab combined action and drama. The predicament is the perfect catalyst for the girls to work through their fight. In particular, Ariel must realize that Sera wasn't being malicious. What better way than Sera being loyal to her at the possible cost of her own life?
There is a love interest for each of the girls. Adding in two romances could have been a bit much, but the setting makes it work. The life-or-death stakes forge bonds between the scared teenagers. Also, I liked both of the guys. Hudson is struggling with the difference between his image and his real life. One of the thugs was coerced and wants to help the girls. He's a terrific foil to Ariel.
A few aspects of the novel strain credulity. Much ado is made about the password to a cell phone, needed so the girls can make an emergency call. Most cells allow emergency calling when the phone is locked. Disabling emergency calls generally takes about five steps, which is approximately five steps more than your average person is willing to take to disable a useful feature.
Overall, I thought THE GIRL IN THE WALL was a good thriller in the vein of Caroline B. Cooney. The mastermind behind the home invasion is obvious, so there isn't much mystery. But there is action, a few scares, a touch of romance, and strong characterization. Ariel and Sera's friendship sells the novel.