Friday, May 14, 2010

Guy Friday-- Horror!

There are never enough horror books for my students. I've tried to find them, but even when I hand students Darren Shan's Lord Loss, they seem to think it's not horrific enough. This disturbs me just a bit, but I figure that horror is to boys what problem novels are to girls. Unfortunately, I have a very short list of books that boys claim are "horrific enough".
Carter, Dean. Hand of the Devil.
Ferguson, Alane. The Christopher Killer.
Pike, Christopher. Master of Murder.
Richardson, E.E. The Devil's Footsteps.
Shan, Darren. Lord Lord (Demonata series)
Yancey, Rick. The Monstrumologist. (Thanks, Jennifer!)
Zindel, Paul. Rats, Raptor, Reef of Death, Doom Stone, Night of the Bat, Loch

One might hope that there would be a lot of web sites with lists of horror books; most have about as many as I have listed, some of which are deemed "not scary" by my students.

Monster Librarian (Best site!)
Hebdomeros (short list)
Cuyahoga Falls Library (where they have all the books in the world!)

So-- what's the general consensus? What do boys want in horror books, and what good books are out there? Take this three question survey if you have time!

Click Here to Take Survey

Klavan, Andrew. The Long Way Home.
In this sequel to The Last Thing I Remember, Charlie is still on the run from the Homelanders, a terrorist group that has framed him for the murder of his best friend. These terrorists are U.S. citizens who are recruited by "Islamists". While I appreciated the nonstop action (knife attacks in the library restroom, motorcycle chases, etc.), this got VERY preachy, to the point of being off-putting. I have a lot of students who are Muslims; how will they feel reading this? During the Cold War, there were a lot of spy novels with Communist bad guys; how many Russian immigrants did we have who were reading those? I don't remember the first book having so much emphasis on Charlie's Christian beliefs, and Klavan also loses points for the incredibly unflattering portrayal of librarian, ("She looked sort of bulky and shapeless in a dark flowery blouse. Her hair was short and dyed a kind of silvery blode. Her wrinkly features were kindly but distant, abstracted, as if she were far away inside her own mind. Page 21), that wasn't even clever-- if this librarian had sized up the situation and managed to fend off Charlie's attackers and let him escape, that would have been cool.

Kirkus reviews said "Skewed to an audience reading from the right side of the religio-political spectrum, it displays scant tolerance for nonbelievers. Even those comfortable with this viewpoint may well find themselves yawning as Charlie sludges on in his quest--suspended, of course, until the next book."

Book three is scheduled to come out 2 November 2010, and book four on 2 April 2011. I will probably buy them, if only so that Klavan doesn't accuse me of being a Leftist Librarian with An Agenda to Delude the Youth of the Nation. *Sigh* Why Thomas Nelson Publishing has chosen to put these in paper-over-board bindings is a mystery-- they will see hard use and not survive well.


  1. I think the problem is that they know, like I did, that if it's in the school library than it probably isn't scary enough. When I was in middle school I started reading Stephen King and ended up doing my college thesis on horror fiction. In fact, I went right from "Children's Lit." to SF/Horror and skipped over much of what is now marketed as "YA". Although I did like "The Dark Is Rising" series.

  2. So glad you shared these titles and sites! As part of my MLS work, I conducted a "Guys Read" survey; "horror" was one of the top genre picks by guys, but the least represented in the library's collection.

    Have you had a chance to read Rick Yancy's MONSTRUMOLOGIST? Lots of blood and guts, and vibrant characters (AND it will be a series!)! I was surprised (pleasantly-- if one can say that about a horror book!) to see that it's on the consideration list for Texas' Lone Star Reading List, for middle school students!