Thursday, June 08, 2023

Possess Me

Alexander, K.R. Possess Me
November 1, 2022 by Scholastic Inc.
Library copy

Kaden and best friend Javier like to hang out at Mr. Hubbard's junk shopping, looking for things for their collections of oddities, like a taxidermied mouse in a tutu that captures Javier's imagination. It can't just be random junk; it has to help tell a story. This is just part of why the two are considered odd, and are targeted by Gabby, who used to be friends with Kaden, as well as Jake and Melvin. When the treasures at the junk shop begin to seem ordinary, the two decide they will go to the local burnt out, abandoned house, Blood Manor, and see what cool things are there. Ruined in an eerie fire years ago, the house of Janice Hoffweller is impressive but deeply ominous. Venturing deep inside, down a set of stairs, Kaden finds a room that is not burnt, and a ring with an eyeball on it. Putting it on causes strange things to happen, like a ghost that frightens everyone out of the house. Gabby and her companions flee but also blame Kaden for the weirdness. The ring causes Kaden to have odd dreams, and before long, it's hard to tell where Kaden ends and the all devouring Benjamin begins. Benjamin had Mrs. Hoffweller in his thrall, and had her doing horrendous things for years, but now that ownership of the ring has changed, it is Kaden who has to do the spririt's bidding. As children in town start disappearing and Kaden start to slip into a disturbing plane of existence where it's hard to tell what is real and what isn't, Benjamin seems to have the upper hand. Will Kaden be able to get enough help to break free from the spirit and sever its grip on the house?
Strengths: This was a bit different from other Alexander titles, because it had a weirdly disconnected feel to the narrative. Kaden is possessed by the demon spirit of Benjamin, so there are scenes where Kaden is clearly doing things, but describing them almost as if someone else is doing them. The thing that I liked best was actually Kaden's parents, who know that there's something going on, but can't quite fix it. Javier is good as well, and his obsession with the mouse and the tutu and other odd things definitely opens Kaden's mind up to investigatig the house and keeping the ring. This is really quite a disturbin gbook, but in a good way. I'd say it's my third favorite, right behind Darkroom and Escape
Weaknesses: I would have liked to know a little bit more about Gabby and Kaden's relationship. We're given just a tantalizing glimpse that they were once friends, but there could have been more developed here. Also, while the blue eyes on the cover are very arresting, the eye on the ring is clearly GRAY.  
What I really think: I thought a fight would break out when I held up the two new copies of this title during the weekly library lesson. Readers bring these titles back with their friends right behind them who want the book they are turning in! Order extra boxes of these for Scholastic book fairs, and purchase at least two of each for any middle school library.

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