The story starts at the end of senior year for Jessie and her friends as they join the rest of their senior class in Las Vegas for a weekend of debauchery and fun. Jessie is looking forward to the mini-vacay even though she’s not thrilled about her ex Jimmy riding out with her group. After a car ride that went reasonably well, Jessie and Jimmy hash it out in her hotel room after she breaks down and asks why he would break up with her and run back to his ex. He explains his reason (and it’s a good one!), but it only confuses Jessie more, so they argue, he leaves, and she gets amped up to let loose with the rest of her friends. And, let loose she does.
Jessie and BFF Alex get drunk at the Bellagio, take in the lastest Cirque du Soleil show, and try to win big in black jack–which is how Jessie meets Russ. She knows she’s still utterly in love with Jimmy, but Jessie just can’t keep her eyes off Russ. It could be his self-confidence, good looks, or the way he wins almost every single hand of Black Jack he plays, but Jessie is drawn to him. She eventually lets Alex leave without her so that she can stay and hang with Russ, who starts giving her pointers so that she wins big, too. After gambling all night, Jessie ends up in his hotel room to count her earnings, but she ends up getting a lesson in the card game 22 (yes, 22) and caps the night off with a super steamy make out session. At the last second Jessie realizes it’s Jimmy she really wants and hightails it out of there, but not before Russ tells her to come back when she “doesn’t know what else to do.” When Jessie gets back to her room, Jimmy is there, they reunite, and she is happy as a clam.
Russ’ parting advice to Jessie was weird, and it’s not the last strange event that happens over the next 24 hours until Jessie is fighting for her life and in a seemingly parallel world she doesn’t understand. It is then that Jessie remembers Russ’ words, so she pays him a visit hoping to find out what is happening. What she discovers is completely unexpected and life changing.
Grittier with more straightforward sex, drinking, and drugs (the drugs are minimal though) than I expected from the man who used to write the Goosebumps books I read as a youngster–but I liked it that way. The teens are written really well from their personalities (nothing too cookie cutter) to they way they speak (young but they’re not all OMG either).
The plot is easy to follow yet it keeps you guessing. You may know something or someone is not quite right, but you can’t guess exactly why–and I love it. I’m tired of predictable books and characters and this story is anything but.
Genre: Young Adult/Paranormal
Anticipated Publication Date: November 13, 2012