By Mackenzie Wells, Athens, GA
The fourth book in Stacy Padula’s Gripped series will be captivating to anyone who likes mysteries or a thrilling search for answers. I believe “Gripped 4: Smoke & Mirrors” will still appeal to the same audience as the first three books while also drawing new readers to the series with its promise of suspense. This book follows many of the storylines to the apex of their drama. It will keep readers engaged as they finally learn answers they have been waiting for, but the new questions raised will keep them coming back for the fifth book as well.
As readers relate to the characters in each of these novels, it is so much easier to humanize them and see that it is not inconceivable for good people to end up in a bad position through a few bad decisions. None of the characters in this novel do anything out of malicious intent. They are all self-deceived, which leads them to make bad decisions and then try to rationalize them. In psychology, the way they are acting is known as cognitive dissonance, which means they are acting in a manner inconsistent with their beliefs. Someone having cognitive dissonance will either change their behavior, rationalize the behavior to their beliefs, or change their beliefs. It is easy to see how this theory is proven time and again by the actions—or inaction—of the characters in “Gripped 4: Smoke & Mirrors.” Seeing these tendencies in others helps us to understand the very same tendencies in ourselves.
Mackenzie graduated in 2020 from the University of Georgia, majoring in English and public relations. She is a leader at the Wesley Foundation at UGA, the community outreach coordinator for UGA’s Undergraduate English Association, and a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Mackenzie has always had a passionate love for books and their ability to open doors to new worlds. She is excited to assist Stacy Padula in making a change in the young adult community.