A thriller that has a cyber twist

A thriller that has a cyber twist

"Find me." Two words written on a Post-it note stuck in a diary left on Wick Tate's doorstep.

The diary belongs to Tessa Waye, who used to be Wick's best friend. Tessa Waye, who jumped (or was she pushed?) to her death. Now what's a crack computer hacker like Wick to do?

"Find Me" (HarperTeen, 2013) is Romily Bernard's first novel, and what a thrilling debut!

Initially, Wick wants nothing to do with this perverse little game. She's got enough troubles as it is. She's a kid from the wrong side of the tracks with an attitude to match.

"What can I say?" Wick says. "I'm freaking sweetness and light."

Her mother's dead, driven to suicide by her father, a meth dealer and thoroughly nasty piece of work. Dear old Dad has escaped from the slammer.

Wick and her little sister, Lily, live in constant fear that their father will be back to pay them a visit, even as they are doing their best to fit in with their wealthy foster parents.

And then there's the detective who keeps hanging around the house. She's got a lucrative hacking business on the side, spying on boyfriends and husbands for women. As she puts it, she's "Robin Hood with Kool-Aid colored hair."

Is the detective sniffing into Wick's hacking activities, or is he after her father?

But when Tessa's diary reveals that the girl had been sucked into a toxic relationship with an unnamed man — and that the man has set his sights on Lily — things get personal. As far as Wick's concerned, the rest of the world can go to hell, but she's fiercely protective of her little sister. She's got to find the perv before it's too late.

She reluctantly accepts the help of Griff, a trailer park boy she knows only casually from school. Turns out, Griff is not only a fellow hacker, he's also pretty great looking. (Let's hear it for sexy nerds!) Their developing romance is sweet but doesn't detract from the growing tension as Wick learns that Lily is not the only one in danger.

Wick might be hard as nails on the outside, but her fiercely protective love for her sister makes her an endearing character. Some readers may figure out the identity of Tessa's tormenter before the end of the book, but "Find Me" is a fast-paced thriller that delivers.

Sara Latta is a science writer and author of 18 books for children and young adults. You can learn more about her work and link to past reviews athttp://www.saralatta.com. This is her last book recommendation column for The News-Gazette; she will be bidding Champaign-Urbana a fond goodbye when she moves to New York City in January. Thanks for reading.

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