Exposure, by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes (fiction) – Predictions, fame, love, death

book cover of Exposure by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes published by Merit Press
Competitive pals Duff and Duncan,
Three masks predict doom,
Bloodstain that will not wash away…
in an Alaskan high school instead of medieval Scotland.

Welcome to the second book in Askew and Helmes’ Twisted Lit series, definitely as brooding as Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” which inspired it, as dark as the long winter nights in Skye’s hometown of Anchorage, as dangerous as Beth’s desperation to rise above her modest beginnings.

If you know the “Scottish play” well, some twists here will still surprise you; if not, you’ll find that the plotline is largely faithful to the original, so you will have a better chance of following all the action in the play when you read it yourself.

How far should ambition take us? How far is too far?

Book info: Exposure (Twisted Lit #2) / Kim Askew and Amy Helmes. Merit Press, 2013.  [Kim’s website]  [Amy’s website]   [publisher site]   [book series trailer]

My Recommendation: Skye would rather be home in Anchorage, but how could she stay after what Craig did? A boyfriend who killed someone…

The summer that he moved north for his dad’s job, cute sophomore Craig hung out with Skye, but once school started, he was rapidly drawn into the popular clique. Skye would much rather hide out in the art room than listen to Beth and her posse giggle and posture. Just one more year, then she can get out of here…

As photographer for the school paper, Skye at least gets to see Craig through her telephoto lens at hockey games. The team was lucky that he’d turned out to be a great power forward since their star player Duff had suddenly gone to Scotland as an exchange student. Rumor has it that former girlfriend Beth had something to do with that, but now she’s all over Craig.

Skye wishes that everything were as easy as developing film (yes, she’s old school about that). Then she could un-separate her parents, un-commit to going to prom with dorky Lenny, un-hear the eerie predictions coming out of the Native Yu’Pik masks worn by her three best pals for their art project.

She told Craig that the party in the woods would only be a drunkfest, but came along anyway just to make his social-climber girlfriend mad. When flashlight tag in the snow begins, Skye retreats to the jeep, never dreaming that she’d overhear Beth telling him they’d keep it all a secret, never imagining that hockey player Duncan would be found dead beside the half-frozen creek the next day or that the police would still be investigating weeks later.

Life sort of goes on at school after Duncan’s death, with the crush of college applications, protests against chopping down its 200-year-old courtyard tree, the Running of the Reindeer and other efforts to keep the long Arctic winter at bay. Beth is sure that she and Craig will be Prom King and Queen, despite her increasingly bizarre behavior.

How can Skye go away to college if Mom and Dad really do split up? Money was tight before they separated…
What’s the secret that Beth and Craig are keeping? It seems to be eating away at them…
Are the answers in Skye’s huge collection of senior year photos? Those eerie predictions might be right…

A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth under the Northern Lights, this sinister tale uses quotations from “the Scottish play” as its chapter headings in Askew and Helmes’ second book of the Twisted Lit series.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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