The Secret to Lying
James was the guy no one noticed — just another fifteen-year-old in a small town. So when he gets into an academy for gifted students, he decides to leave his boring past behind. In a boarding school full of nerds and geeks, being cool is easy. All it takes is a few harmless pranks to invent a new James: fighter, rebel, punk. Everyone’s impressed, except for the beautiful "Ice Queen" Ellie Frost and the mysterious ghost44, an IM presence who sees through his new identity. But James is riding high, playing pranks and hooking up with luscious Jessica Keen. There’s just one thing awry: he’s starting to have vivid dreams of being a demon-hunting warrior, a thrill that is spilling over into dangerous and self-destructive acts while he’s awake. As he’s drawn deeper into his real-life lies and his dream-world conquests, James begins to wonder: What’s the price for being the coolest guy around?
In Mitchell's (The Traitor King) engrossing and entertaining novel, the trick to the titular secret, according to 15-yearold James, is to "believe yourself and others will believe you, too." And in his first year at an elite public boarding school, he reinvents himself by doing just that. A punk haircut and a few casual lies about getting into fights and stealing cars convinces his fellow students that he's a tough rebel instead of the milquetoast he'd actually been. James enjoys all that comes with his new life from makeout sessions with sexy, punk Jessica to the pranks he pulls with his outsider friends ("I figured my place in the trio would be to play the quiet, brooding rebel"). James also engages in late-night IM conversations with someone named ghost44, who seems to know too much about him, and deals with a series of disturbing dreams in which he's forced to confront his internal demons. Mitchell paints a vivid picture of teenage social and mental health issues, neither overdramatizing nor understating their impact, and the result is a great read. Ages 14 up. \n