Thursday, September 06, 2012

Mystery Thursday--Creepy Possession!

McNamee, Graham. Beyond.
11 September 2012, Random House Children's Books
Reviewed at Young Adult Books Central; copy from there.

Jane has a history of self harm-- she swallowed poison as a child, almost was killed on a train track, and most recently, shot herself in the head with a nail gun. Her parents keep a GPS monitor on her at night because she has also been sleepwalking. It's not her fault, though-- for years, she has felt as if her shadow is trying to kill her. Her friend Lexi (who has creepy moments of her own) believes her, because she was there when Jane could not get off the train track. The nail stuck in Jane's brain would be bad enough, but after seeing a skeleton emerge from landslide while she is with her police constable father, Jane starts to realize that it's not her shadow that is trying to kill her, it's the spirit of Leo, a young man who was killed and buried in the woods. As Leo's control becomes stronger and stronger, Jane and Lexi realize that he is trying to get her attention to solve the mystery of his death. Even though they are in great danger themselves (and Jane especially, since her brain injury gives her many troubles), they work on solving the mystery and bringing the perpetrator to justice.
Strengths: Jane's blackouts and feelings that her shadow are attacking her are portrayed in a way that makes them feel real and creepy. While the connection between her and the boy haunting her seem tenuous, the storyline is gruesome enough that everything works together. I will buy this one.
Weaknesses: This author's Acceleration (2003, although a new paperback version is being published on 11 September, probably in conjunction with this book!) is a huge hit in my library, because the main character is a boy, and the boys will read it. This book would have worked just about as well with a boy as the main character, and would have suited my own purposes better!

Brennan, Sarah Rees.The Lynburn Legacy Book #1: Unspoken.
11 September 2012, Random House Books for Young Readers

***HUGE SPOILERS!!!!***Kami has always had an imaginary friend, Jared, who can talk to her, but that's just one of the things that makes her "weird". She and her friend Angela have decided to start a school newspaper and do investigative reporting (well, Angela just wants to nap!), so when the Lynburn family moves back to the small English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale, they take it upon themselves to find out more about them, especially the two really good looking boys their age, Ash and ...Jared. Yes, it turns out that Jared is the boy that Kami has been talking to in her head for all of these years. When another student informs them that the screams people are hearing at night in the nearby woods may be animal sacrifices, the girls look into this and find that the Lynburn family has been feared for generations. For good reason, they are sorcerers who have performed animal and even human sacrifices for years. To make matters worse, Kami and Jared are connected because both of their mothers drank blood in a ceremony when they were pregnant, and now Kami is Jared's source of power. If she dies, he dies. Kami thinks that perhaps some of the Lynburns might be good, even with their vast history of cruelty, but it's hard to tell which one of them, if any, is on her side.
Strengths: This is a good, bloody, solid, English paranormal mystery. It reminds me vaguely of some of the Green Man legends, where evil inherent to an area rears its ugly head. There aren't a lot of mystery series, and this is book one-- I can't wait to see the other covers, since this is particularly nice. Blue and green next? I also like how Kami is described as being half Japanese and it's part of her character but not the entire focus of the story.
Weaknesses: I adore Brennan's Demon's Lexicon Trilogy. This book, however, has some odd weak spots in it that could have benefited from tighter editing. Hard to explain, but I'd be reading along and Kami would say something that sounded wrong-- either too old or too young. There were also a few scenes where a major event was just brushed over with little character involvement (the first human murder) that struck me as something that was written in draft and somehow escaped refinement. I mention this because it seems unusual for this writer, and surprised me.


Deb Marshall said...

Haven't read either of these yet, but will. Stopped at HUGE SPOILERS, lol. Thanks for the heads up. Love her Demon's Lexicon books, too.

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