Night, P.J. (Ann Hodgman) The Ride of Your Life (Creepover #18)
February 4th 2014
by Simon Spotlight
Gabby is impetuous and always in trouble, and her friend Sydney is much more calm and placid. The two are close, so after Sydney's parents are both hired to teach at a small college in Trouble Slope, Iowa, Gabby flies in to visit from California. On the trip in, she sees an intriguing fairground, but once she asks around, people claim that it hasn't been opened in years. She and Sydney sneak out to explore it, and find a flyer advertising Kids' Week, with free admission and rides. They go back, and meet Austin and Tyler, as well as a group of other kids. They arrange to meet the boys at the mall the next day, but they don't show up. When the girls go back to the fair that night, they find out the big secret behind the fairground. Will they be caught in its evil clutches, or will they survive?
Strengths: This series, along with Scholastic's Poison Apple books, is a huge hit with my 6th grade girls who want scary books. I would rather have them reading these than, say, Stephen King. The writing is solid and blissfully easy to get through (no easy task to write like that!), and the chills are minor but fun. There's a little element of romance. If your collection of Goosebumps books are just a pile of paper shreds, definitely look into these.
Weaknesses: A bit cheesy, and the characters aren't tremendously well developed. The evil carnival has been done before, but the target demographic for this won't be ready for Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes or even Shusterman's Full Tilt, although this might be a good introduction to those works.