Picks and Pans Review: The Last Child

updated 06/22/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/22/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by John Hart |

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REVIEWED BY JOSH EMMONS

THRILLER
Borrowing heavily from the psychology and subject of Stephen King's The Body (on which the film Stand By Me was based), The Last Child tells the story of Johnny Merrimon, a 13-year-old boy in rural North Carolina who's determined to locate his missing twin sister, Alyssa, long after others in the community have given up hope. When he accidentally encounters a dying man who says he's "found her," Johnny enlists his best friend Jack's help and must wriggle free from the fetters of school and a home life shattered by his family's loss to uncover the truth. Although the book comes up short on suspense—you'll spot every false lead without much difficulty—and the characters deserve more emotional range than Hart (The King of Lies) allows them, Johnny's heartbreaking quest is described with great energy and sympathy.

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