Author: Heather Brewer
Reading Level: Young Adult
Expected Release: March 31, 2015
Review Source: HarperTeen
When Stephen is forced to move back to the nowhere town where his father grew up, he’s already sure he’s not going to like it. Spencer, Michigan, is like a town straight out of a Hitchcock movie, with old-fashioned people who see things only in black-and-white. But things start looking up when Stephen meets the mysterious twins Cara and Devon. They’re total punks–hardly the kind of people Stephen’s dad wants him hanging out with–but they’re a breath of fresh air in this backward town. The only problem is, Cara and Devon don’t always get along, and as Stephen forms a friendship with the charismatic Devon and something more with the troubled Cara, he starts to feel like he’s getting caught in the middle of a conflict he doesn’t fully understand. And as Devon’s group of friends, who hang out in a cemetery they call The Playground, get up to increasingly reckless activities to pass the summer days, Stephen worries he may be in over his head.
Stephen’s fears prove well-founded when he learns of Spencer’s dark past. It seems the poor factory town has a history of “bad times,” and many of the town’s oldest residents attribute the bad times to creatures right out of an urban legend. The legend goes that the only way the town will prosper again is if someone makes a sacrifice to these nightmarish creatures. And while Stephen isn’t one to believe in old stories, it seems Devon and his gang might put a lot of faith in them. Maybe even enough to kill for them.
Now, Stephen has to decide what he believes, where his allegiances lie, and who will really be his friend in the end.
I'm so glad that I was able to review this one! It was completely like nothing I've read before and it was exactly what I needed to keep my "awesome book" train going. Brewer has fabulous writing skills that drew me in from page one. She has a knack for describing things that comes across perfectly so you can visualize the town of Spencer, without turning into something from The Scarlet Letter.
When I think of the town Spencer, I'm immediately transformed to one of those creepy places you'd see in a horror movie. Something about it just doesn't seem quite right. It's one of those towns that you drive by out in the middle of nowhere and hope and pray that your car won't break down. I mean, the crazy old men sitting outside the gas station staring you down. The even crazier old lady telling everyone that they're going to rot in hell. Even the punk kids who like to hang out in graveyards...yep, creepy. What an awesome setting for this book! And of course, that's where Stephen ends up having to move to with a grandmother who wants nothing to do with him.
Of all the characters, Cara was my favorite. I love the way Brewer describes her; rainbow colored hair, short plaid skirts, tall stockings. When I think of a punk girl, that's what I envision. I actually had friends like that in high school. I've never read a book where the main characters were punk, so this was a nice change. Her twin brother, though, you know he's not right in the head from the very beginning. It's like, "Run Stephen Run!" But of course he doesn't, and that is the point in the story where his life is changed forever.
Overall, the plot was interesting as well. I really enjoyed something different and new. There were many times where I would put it down to sleep, and then when I knew my husband was asleep, I'd sneak out to the living room to finish the chapter. I just couldn't sleep not knowing what was going to happen next! I would definitely recommend this one to my middle school students. Especially the ones who love a good horror flick!