Alcatraz 2.0 is a "suburban island... where convicted murderers [are] hunted down by government-sanctioned serial killers for America's amusement." The "brainchild of an anonymous television mogul known only as The Postman," Alcatraz 2.0 has taken over a significant part of the judicial system because the "former reality 'star' [who] was elected president of the United States" relished the idea of "capital punishment as entertainment." The Postman's killers are "media-driven celebrities" who maintain their anonymity through masks and clever killer names: Hannah Ball kills by turning her victims into "cannibalistic casseroles"; Cecil B. DeViolent uses the prisoners to re-create movie deaths; Gucci Hangman constructs designer murders that match the victim's "complexion and outfit and the latest trends from New York Fashion Week." The Postman app is a "runaway success."
According to 17-year-old Dee, who has just woken up wearing a floor-length ballgown in what must be Prince Slycer's kill room, "[t]he whole thing [is] f*cking nuts." Dee, who has never engaged with the app, was forced to watch the livestream while held in jail awaiting trial for killing her stepsister. From this little bit of exposure, she knows that Prince Slycer dresses his victims like Disney princesses and chases them "through booby-trap-riddled mazes," hunting them down and skewering them with "an arsenal of increasingly large and bizarre cake knives." Simply put, Slycer is "the worst," and he's about to kill Dee--who knows she's innocent--in front of 50 million people.
What follows feels best described in review clichés: #MurderTrending is an edge-of-your-seat, heart-pounding thriller. While savvy readers will likely pick up what McNeil is putting down and figure out the conspiracy, that knowledge takes absolutely no enjoyment away from this inventively gory, regularly humorous and extremely suspenseful novel. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness