Nostalgia Can Be Killer in YA Thriller Novel “Retro”

For readers who are intrigued by suspenseful thrillers, the synopsis of Retro will immediately catch your eye. Let’s take a dive into this new upcoming YA novel from  New York Times bestselling author Jarrod Shusterman and debut author Sofía Lapuente.

Synopsis: It was never meant to happen this way.

Things were never supposed to get this out of hand.

After a cyberbullying incident at her school goes viral, Luna Iglesias finds herself at the heart of a brewing controversy. When the social media company Limbo—who are also implicated in the scandal—sweeps in with an offer that sounds like an opportunity to turn over a new leaf and receive a scholarship to the college of her dreams, she’s happy to jump on the new trend. It’s called the Retro Challenge, where contestants live without modern technology, wear vintage clothes, party as if the future weren’t already written, and fall in love as if they were living in a movie.

At first, the challenge is fun. But then things get dangerous. Kids start disappearing, including Luna’s friends. There are voices in the woods. Bloodred markings on the trees. And Luna increasingly begins to wonder if all these strange happenings are connected with the Retro Challenge.

Secrets. Lies. Betrayal. The weight of her family on her shoulders. There’s so much on the line for Luna, not to mention she’s falling in love with the last guy she expected. Unless she can figure out the truth behind who’s sabotaging the challenge, the next person to disappear may be Luna herself.



Retro is a novel that starts out as a lighthearted read but quickly turns into a gripping thrill ride. Luna, the main character, gets involved in a cyberbullying scandal. In order to make things right she makes a plea to social media giant, Limbo. to help out and when they arrive at her school with the Retro Challenge it seems like it will be the answer to her problems. The Retro Challenge gives everyone a chance to reinvent themselves and start a new leaf without having access to modern technology. But when sinister things start to pop up this nostalgic challenge becomes dangerous.

This novel is fast-paced and as soon we’re introduced to the characters we jump right into the story. Luna does her best to correct her wrongs and soon finds out that the same goes for other students too. The Retro Challenge gives them a chance to truly shine and be more confident in themselves. Even from the very beginning readers are suspicious of Limbo as their offer seems too good to be true. It puts the reader on edge to find out who will survive the challenge but also ask why the staff of Limbo seems to be anywhere and everywhere.

This novel was entertaining to read from start to finish and I love how the book itself is immersed in the retro concept. Each chapter title is headlined by a retro song, but it also gives a slight clue or foreshadowing to what might happen next. The story is told solely through Luna’s eyes and you have to decipher if she’s telling the truth or not as well as the other characters in the novel. Everyone has secrets to hide and it makes figuring out the mystery more fun and adds to the suspense factor.

I can’t say too much more about this novel without giving it all away, but there were some parts that caught me off guard while reading this book. It’s a novel that not only tackles issues surrounding bullying but is also a commentary on our relationship with social media and how we portray our lives on these platforms.

*Trigger Warnings: Suicide, Eating Disorders, Death, Violence


Final Verdict:

A solid thriller through and through! This novel had me hooked from its very first pages and gets a 4 out of 5 stars rating from me. Check out Retro when it hits store shelves on January 24, 2023!

*I received this book from the publisher (Simon & Schuster) in exchange for a fair and honest review.

About Rachel Moulden

Rachel is a fandom nerd who loves to create new stories. Outside of Fandom Spotlite you can find her writing books, chatting about all things pop culture related, and gushing about all things bookish on her book blog, Life of a Female Bibliophile. When Rachel is not busy writing you can find her jamming out to anime OSTs, indulging in a good cup of coffee, or watching too many K-Dramas. Check out her middle-grade debut novel (Lost Love: My First Boyfriend) available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. You can follow her on Twitter at @bibliophilelyfe and Instagram at @lifeofafemalebibliophile.

View all posts by Rachel Moulden

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