Penelope Wryter‘s life has been a mess ever since her sister committed suicide a year ago. Now Pen’s hooked on Fix, an illegal drug that makes her feel, think, and see differently. The hallucinations are intense, but there’s one vision that keeps Pen coming back for moreNate. He’s the only person who cares about her. Too bad he’s just a side effect of the drug.
Pen knows she’s going nowhere fast. She’s desperate to change. But when she tries to say goodbye to Nate, he professes his love for her making her more confused than ever. Then, when a girl from school goes missing during a bad Fix trip, Pen realizes she may be in a lot more danger than she ever imagined. Unless Pen straightens up and faces reality quick, she might be the next missing girl on the list.
In this uninspired mystery from Cronkhite (Disconnected), Penelope Wryter’s life has been taken over by her addiction to the drug Fix in the year since her older sister’s suicide. Fix causes intense hallucinations, and for Penelope, one of those hallucinations appears as a teenage boy named Nate. Penelope spends much of her time getting high in order to figure out what Nate is suddenly trying to tell her or dealing with the consequences of the terrible decisions she makes while on the drug. When another teenage girl goes missing, Penelope briefly investigates what happens to her, but she quickly gets caught back up in her obsession with Nate, to the exclusion of a real relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Walker, who still cares for her. There are two mysteries at play, but neither is clear or well developed. Penelope’s obsession with Nate and the drug leave little room for character development, and the stiff dialogue and first-person narration (“I tell her that sounds like a good idea and that maybe I’ll bring it up to Rose and my other friends”) don’t do much to sustain interest. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)
After Penelope loses her sister to suicide and her family life deteriorates, she spends the year getting high on Fix. Fix causes hallucinations; Penny’s hallucination involves interacting with a boy. Nate is a figment of her imagination, but he is also the reason she keeps taking the drug even knowing it causes her problems. She has nothing going for her except for Nate, and she cannot quit him no matter how hard she tries. When a girl goes missing after a Fix party, Penelope cannot help but think she could be next. Due to her drug addiction, Penelope is an unreliable narrator. Since she is not able to distinguish what parts of her life are real, neither is the reader. The weaving and twisting of the plot come together at the end, when everything becomes clear. The addiction was handled well; it came across as real with the highs and lows of the drug. None of the characters are particularly likable, but the plot drives readers onward. The ending is hopeful and not unrealistic. While this book is not long, it is packed with moments that may lead to discussions about suicide, feeling alone, abusive relationships, drugs, bullies, and hope. This is a good book for any library collection serving young adults. Reviewer: Jennifer Rummel; Ages 15 to 18.VOYA, October 2017 (Vol. 40, No. 4) - Jennifer Rummel
10/01/2017School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—High schooler Penelope Wryter has been addicted to Fix, an illegal drug that allows users to manipulate the world around them, ever since her sister's suicide a year ago. She's considering quitting, but her best friend Rosario won't let up. Plus, the only time she sees Nate—the one thing keeping her together—is when she's high. Nate's just a side effect of the drug, after all. But as girls at Pen's school disappear while on Fix, reality and fantasy start to collide. Soon, Pen's forced to question everything she thinks she knows, from her loyalty to her friends to her own sanity. While the story line sounds exciting, the narrative has many shortcomings. The adult characters are mostly scenery, only appearing when necessary to advance the plot. The single exception is Pen's mother and her romantic relationship, which—while both emotionally and physically abusive—is treated as an inconvenience by Pen. In fact, every relationship is dangerously flawed, yet these issues are continually glossed over. When Rose's boyfriend, Clay, tries to force himself on Pen but is interrupted by her ex-boyfriend, Walker, he blames Pen for throwing herself at other guys. This attitude—which Walker displays fairly consistently throughout the novel—makes Pen's emotional transition from indifference to love beyond unbelievable. There's nothing redeemable about any of the characters. VERDICT Readers looking for a good thriller with characters worth rooting for should check out Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers or There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins. Not recommended.—Kaitlin Frick, New York Public Library
Penelope (Pen) Wryter is addicted to the drug Fix. Ironically, the drug was introduced as a legal treatment for depression. But Pen’s sister Tabatha committed suicide when she was taking the drug legally, indicating the trouble it can cause. Pen’s mother is involved with a loser boyfriend, so Pen feel unloved and neglected. When she is high on Fix, she has a relationship with a boy named Nate, but when she’s not high, she does not know if he is real or imaginary. Does it matter, if she feels better when they’re together? Pen takes the drug to be with Nate; as time goes by, she realizes that Nate has a message for her, and that it may have to do with Tabatha’s death. At the same time, her friend Rose urges her to take the drug with her and her other friends. She even goes so far as to suggest a “Fix circle,” in which a group gets high together to see what adventures they might have. But when one of the circle participants goes missing, Pen begins to seriously think about quitting the drug. She continues because of the connection with Nate. Frustratingly, whenever it seems that Nate will get his message across, something happens to interrupt. Pen may be seen as weak by some readers, but teens who have dabbled in drug use may be more understanding of her need to get high. Cronkhite provides a stunning twist near the end that may not go over well. Still, the story can serve as a cautionary tale, as it provides a realistic glimpse into the world of a teen addict. It may be just what some teens need to understand that world. Reviewer: Magi Evans; Ages 14 up.Children's Literature - Magi Evans