Claire Hutchet Bishop’s The Five Chinese Brothers moves to the Pacific Northwest in this YA mystery from M.J. Beaufrand. Useless Bay introduces readers to the Gray quints — four brothers and sister Pixie — and the Shepherds: an ultra-wealthy family who vacation near the Grays’ home on Whidbey Island. When two members of the Shepherd clan go missing, the Grays are the first people suspected, and the supersized, superpowered teens must rush to solve the mystery and save themselves and their friends.
Useless Bay alternates chapters between Pixie Gray and Henry Shepherd, the budding romantic partners at the heart of the novel. Henry refuses to believe that Pixie had anything to do with his brother’s disappearance, but she was the last person seen with little Grant — and they were rowing a boat out onto the water. Although the constantly swapping point of view doesn’t lend the kind of tautness to the narrative that you’d expect, it does prevent the characters from spilling all of their secrets in one go.
Beaufrand’s novel isn’t without its problems. The atmosphere is less “gritty,” more Scooby-Doo, and the Gray quints’ mysterious origins are left largely unexplained, in spite of the fact that the novel appears to be planned as a standalone. That’s not to mention the convenient — and sometimes frenetic — storyline, which passes by much more quickly than one expects. Ultimately, however, the issues here are minor. Useless Bay is an enjoyable read, in spite of its flaws.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review.
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Image credit: Jimmy McIntyre