If you read my March series on Thrillers and Killers, you know that I'm a huge fan of mysteries and thrillers. So today I'll be reviewing three scary, thrilling and/or creepy summer YA books...
by Holly Schindler
To be published on August 26, 2014
by Harper Teen
Source: e-ARC from the publisher
Synopsis from Goodreads: It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew. But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened. But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….
My take: This was a book that, for me, didn't quite achieve its full potential, but I definitely think it is worth a read if you're looking for a YA thriller with a very high creep factor. The book begins with a brutal attack on Claire, the main character. Then, just as Claire and her father have moved to the town of Peculiar to start over, a girl is brutally murdered in that town, an attack that's narrated by the victim in a sort of out-of-body POV, like Lovely Bones.
The town of Peculiar is seriously creepy. The place is overrun with feral cats, there's a ghost in the high school basement, and there's just an overall spooky vibe. The more I read, the more I really got into the story, and was full of theories about what was going on.
My only problem with the book was that, after all that build-up, I found the ending a little disappointing. (Highlight for mild spoiler.) I was hoping that Claire would be an unreliable narrator of the crazy -- or dead -- variety and was not all that happy with the explain-it-all-away kind of ending. I also thought there'd be more connection between Claire's attack and the murder. Also, I wanted the cats to be evil...(End Spoiler.) But still, I think this one is worth a try if you enjoy dark, suspenseful books that really keep you guessing. If you've read this, let me know what you think!
Welcome to the Dark House
by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Published on July 22, 2014
Source: ARC giveaway at ALA
Synopsis from Goodreads: For Ivy Jensen, it’s the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it’s bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams. And for seven essay contestants, it’s their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake’s latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn’t even like scary movies, but she’s ready to face her real-world fears. Parker’s sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up. . . at least for now. Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It’s bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group—the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; “Mister Sensitive”; and the one who’s too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting. Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.
My take: This book gave me pretty much what I was expecting: a fast-paced, campy, mildly scary story of a bunch of kids trapped in a replica of a movie horror house. There are seven kids trapped in the house, six of whom (!) are POV characters, and all of of whom are a particular type. The multitude of people to keep straight had me a bit confused at times and also prevented much character development, but the story moved along at a brisk pace and the scares were fun but not too much -- like a trip to a neighborhood haunted house.
The other thing that came as a surprise was the cliffhanger ending. I'm thinking that this must be the first book in a series or duology, so just don't go in expecting all the creeps to be unmasked at the end, Scooby Doo style. I'd recommend this book for fans of light, entertaining YA horror.
by K. A. Harrington
To be published on August 7
by Putnam Juvenile
Synopsis from Goodreads: On the three-month anniversary of her boyfriend Flynn’s death, Morgan uploads her only photo of him to FriendShare to get some closure—but she’s shocked when the facial recognition software suggests she tag him as "Evan Murphy." She’s never heard of Evan, but a quick search tells her that he lives in a nearby town and looks exactly like Flynn. Only this boy is very much alive. Digging through layers of secrets and lies, Morgan is left questioning everything she thought she knew about her boyfriend, her town, and even her parents' involvement in this massive web of lies.
My take: Forget Me was pretty good as YA thrillers go. I loved the premise -- Morgan thinks her boyfriend, Flynn, is dead, but when she uploads a photo of him to a Facebook-like site, the photo is tagged as being of another guy who looks exactly like Flynn. The story slowed down a bit as Morgan chased down this mysterious guy, but Morgan's best friend Toni was fun and entertaining and the book's setting -- a down-on-its-luck Northeastern town -- added a lot of extra atmosphere. I don't think that the book pushed all the possibilities raised by this premise to the maximum, and the romance wasn't 100% my thing: (highlight for spoiler) the main character's boyfriend dies and after three months, she's all ready for a new guy -- one who looks just like him.(end spoiler) But all in all, I enjoyed this one. If you remember my post on author pen names, K.A. Harrington is Kim Harrington, author of the Clarity series, and also of The Dead and Buried.