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Locked Inside


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About the Author

Nancy Werlin writes YA fiction that ranges from realistic fiction to suspense to fantasy, often breaking the boundaries between genres. Her books have gathered awards too numerous to mention, but including National Book award finalist, Edgar award winner and finalist, New York Times bestseller, L.A. Book Prize finalist, and IndieBound Top Ten. Nancy's first novel, Are You Alone on Purpose, was a Publishers Weekly Flying Start pick.

Of Nancy's suspense fiction, Sarah Weinman says, "Chances are, many of you haven't heard of this author. That would be a shame, because she's simply one of the best crime novelists going right now. Period." These titles are where Nancy habitually breaks genre-separation rules and include The Rules of Survival (a National Book Award finalist), The Killer's Cousin (Edgar award winner), Locked Inside (Edgar award nominee), Black Mirror (which the Washington Post called "an edge-of-your seat thriller"), and Double Helix (named to multiple best-of-year book lists).

Nancy's unusual fantasy fiction was inspired by the ballad Scarborough Fair and includes the loose trilogy Impossible (a New York Times bestseller), Extraordinary (featuring a rare thing in fantasy fiction: a Jewish heroine), and her personal beloved, Unthinkable.

For fun, Nancy also writes and draws a graphic memoir in comics, using her Tumblr to self-publish an episode three times a week.

Her favorite book in all the world is Jane Eyre.

A graduate of Yale, Nancy lives near Boston, Massachusetts with her husband.


Gr 6-10-Marnie Skyedottir, 16, is a poor little rich girl whose mother was a famous singer/guru. Orphaned, disaffected, and uninspired, the teen turns to an online computer game seeking thrills. Marnie becomes besotted with the balance of danger and control she can exert with her virtual persona. Soon, life imitates art as she becomes caught up in real-world intrigue when a teacher at her private girls' school abducts her and holds her at gunpoint before turning the weapon on herself. Realizing that she is locked inside on many levels, Marnie takes a journey to freedom that entails opening each door, one at a time. One of these doors sequesters secrets of her mother's past. Though it's unfortunate that the author's introduction of abuse and violence here verge on sensationalism, the book still works well as a thriller. The pacing is fast and the story unfolds logically, enabling readers to keep track of all the strands in the plot. The author successfully explores the layers of the theme to build interest and suspense. Characters are consistently drawn. One of the most successful is that of the "Elf," Marnie's online gaming partner whose virtual appeal turns real when they become co-captives. He enables the blocked Marnie to leverage her locked-up emotions and abilities.-Lisa Denton, J. S. Russell JHS, Lawrenceville, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Less taut than Werlin's The Killer's Cousin, this novel nevertheless offers enough cliffhangers to keep readers hooked. Marnie hasn't been able to reach out to anyone since the death of her wealthy superstar mother, Skye ("an ex-gospel singer who'd started her own well, some said it was practically a religion"). Not knowing even her father's identity, her doings supervised by a guardian, Marnie alienates the other girls at her boarding school. Instead of studying, she immerses herself in an Internet strategy game and her one friend, the Elf, remains at a comfortable distance in cyberspace. But when Leah Slaight, a new teacher, kidnaps her in a misguided attempt to prove that she is also Skye's daughter, Marnie must depend on the skills she has learned in her game to save herself. Even beyond this unlikely premise, there is plenty to strain credibility, such as the Elf showing up single-handed to free Marnie (Leah captures him, too), and Marnie emerging a more together person after being locked in a basement for a week. For all the implausibility, the book is entertaining. Marnie's outsiderishness is of the kind that appeals to readers ("At least you match," she thinks, when she realizes the black eye Leah gave her is the same shade as her dress) and her personality is spirited enough to live up to the creative problem-solving Werlin assigns her. Ages 14-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"As she did in The Killer's Cousin, Werlin offers a compelling thriller that will have readers turning pages." - Booklist

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