by Emily Guier, Head Editor, INALJ Wyoming
Halloween Book Round-Up
In the spirit of the season, I’ve rounded up a list of spooky(ish) reads to get you in the mood for October. I will note that these are mostly YA, and chosen because I’ve read them (Forever YA, anyone?) and can offer an opinion.
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (2009)
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever. Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.
My take: This book is long (500+ pages, you’ve been warned), and a little on the meh side. I plowed through it and enjoyed the story, but not enough to pick up the other books in the series. Because, yes, in typical YA fashion, this is part of a series.
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride (2010)
Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak. Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else. With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?
My take: McBride does an amazing job of portraying realistic teen angst alongside some pretty out there paranormal concepts. Sam is an unexpected hero, and you’ll find yourself cheering him on throughout the story. This is another series. If you love it, the second book, Necromancing the Stone was published in 2012 and has decent Goodreads reviews.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (2011)
A horrific family tragedy sends 16 year old Jacob to a remote island off Wales, to the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, where he finds unusual old photographs. The children, one his grandfather, were more than peculiar, perhaps dangerous, quarantined for good reason – and maybe still alive.
My take: If you read this, it has to be in hard copy. There are photos throughout that make the book worth reading, but I don’t believe you see them in e-book versions. This is a pretty quick read, and while there are some gaps in the plot construction, it’s entertaining. I believe this is going to be made in a movie. I welcome any discussion on how others think this will play out.
Ashes by Ilsa Bick (2011)
An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions. Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP. For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human. Author Ilsa J. Bick crafts a terrifying and thrilling post-apocalyptic novel about a world that could become ours at any moment, where those left standing must learn what it means not just to survive, but to live amidst the devastation.
My take: Zombies! Survival! Love triangles! What’s not to love? Another first in a series, this book really functions as a stand-alone novel. Bick introduces the EMP knowledgeably and leaves readers questioning whether they would survive in a similar situation.
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (2013)
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.
My take: Perhaps this one is a stretch to include in a Halloween book round-up, but aliens kind of count as spooky. This book got pretty good reviews, and I was surprised to have been less than impressed. I thought the premise was interesting and Yancey does a great job of developing characters, but I think he asks his readers to make some leaps in reasoning or at the least, to forgive some of the gaps in the plot. But, there are aliens, and it’s a survival story, so it deserves consideration.
So, let me know: Are there any other books, classic or new releases, that should be read this month? Why does YA have a corner on this paranormal/spooky genre? What’s the deal with YA and books being a part of a series? Inquiring minds want to know.