Killer Instinct by S.E. Green

killer instinct

Killer Instinct by S.E. Green

Green starts her debut YA novel off with a bang, telling readers the book’s narrator not only studies serial killers, but may be one herself.  “Interesting thing is, I am those profiles.  I have urges.  I plot ways to violently make people pay for what they’ve done to others.”  Sounds a little like the HBO tv show Dexter, right?  When the “Decapitator” starts stalking victims in Lane’s own hometown, her FBI mother is right on the case, with Lane secretly reading the files in her mom’s home office at night.  She even installs a nanny-cam to get in on the phone conversations!  When the killer starts contacting Lane personally, she takes it as a challenge to find the killer herself, even if it means becoming the next victim!S.E. Green

This was a fun book–fast-paced, lots of clues about the identity of the killer, and good insight into the protagonist Lane through the use of the first person narration.  I personally found Lane’s voice a little annoying, but was able to let that go when the story began to get exciting.  I would recommend this title to mystery fans, readers who like Dexter and true crime stories, and fans of Jazz Dent books by Barry Lyga.

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i hunt killers          game

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

MR MERCEDES

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Setting aside his usual horror tropes for this title, King shows readers he’s not afraid the take on the detective novel.  It’s still scary, but this time in a crazy human way with no help needed from the supernatural.  In the early morning hours of a depressed Midwest city, the promise of one thousand jobs has hundreds of unemployed folks lined up at the civic center for a job fair.  Some of them have been there since the previous evening, hoping to be some of the lucky ones who may be able to pay next month’s rent.  Just before 5 A.M., a gray Mercedes sedan plowed into the crowd, backed up, ran over more innocents, then somehow escaped off into the early morning mist.  The escaped mass murderer is nicknamed Mr. Mercedes and still haunts the lead detective from the case, even though Bill Hodges retired months ago from the police force.  Like so many retired police officers he knows, Hodges now has little to live for and spends his days in front of the television, toying with his father’s old Smith & Wesson 38 service revolver.  “On a couple occasions he has slid it between his lips, just to see what it feels like to have a loaded gun lying on your tongue and pointing at your palate.”  His suicidal thoughts stop quickly when he receives a crank letter from someone identifying himself as the Mercedes Killer, and taunting Hodges about spying on him and his now-empty life.  While the letter claims that the killer has had his fill of violence, the former detective knows that’s not how serial killers work, and the book becomes a fast-paced, high stakes hunt as Hodges tries to find the shrewd killer before he strikes again.

If you are expecting another fabulous horror story like The Stand or It, you will not find it here.  That being said, I still think this is a super fun book and was hardly able to put it down.  King is a master of suspense, and this latest title proves that in a new way.  I highly recommend this to Stephen King and mystery/suspense fans.

running man          joyland

 

Revival by Stephen King

revival

Revival by Stephen King

As this story begins, readers meet the six-year-old Jamie Morton, trying to build a hill for his green toy soldiers to scale when he meets the small town’s new minister, Charles Jacobs.  Rev. Jacobs is young and full of life, with a beautiful blond wife and little toddler named Morrie.  The town seems to fall in love with the family, who Jamie and his brothers and sisters will see every week at youth ministry in addition to Sunday services.  The town’s kids become used to the Reverend’s special interest in electricity which he ties into their youth activities as often as he can.  Jamie’s childhood comes crashing down when Patsy and Morrie are killed in a random car accident, devastating Rev. Jacob.  Weeks later when he is able to take the pulpit again, he gives what becomes known as the “Terrible Sermon,” and is fired by the church elders the next week.  Readers see Jamie grow up, falling in love with the rhythm guitar, and eventually playing in cover bands after college, the the huge monkey of heroin on his back.  Then, he runs into Rev. Jacobs again, this time working in a carnival taking “magic” pictures for the shills.   Without giving away too much, let me just say that Charles Jacobs’ interest in electricity has become an obsession, one he says can cure Jamie’s six-year addiction.

While this book was very compelling, it probably is not one of my favorite titles by King.   That being said, I did finish it in two days and think horror and King fans will find it enjoyable.  I think what I missed was more insight into the Reverend and his psyche, since King usually spoils his readers by letting us see inside his antagonists as well as the protagonist.  That was one of the best parts of the recent Mr. Mercedes, which I found completely engrossing.  All in all, King fans will happily eat up this latest addition to the master’s catalog.

doctor sleep          joyland          running man

 

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Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

doctor sleep

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

More than thirty years after he wrote The Shining, Stephen King continues the story of Danny Torrance, the small child from the first book who was torments by both malevolent ghosts and his alcoholic father.  Dan, as he is now called, is a grown man with alcohol issues of his own.  He’s trying to finally get sober and begins setting into a small town in New Hampshire, while going to AA for the first time and being “sponsored” by his boss. During this same time, a group calling themselves the True Knot travels across the USA in RV’s looking like harmless retirees.  Sadly for any child with the Shine, they feed on the children’s power as they slowly torture them to death.  Dan finds himself in the middle of an epic battle when the True Knot discovers Abra Stone, a severely gifted child who has been mentally messaging Dan since she was a baby.

This book is guaranteed to keep readers glued to the pages.  I would suggest reading The Shining first, but this story will still make sense if you haven’t.  I highly recommend it to all King and horror fans, and anyone wanting to escape into an epic tale of good versus evil.  At just over 500 pages, this may be one of King’s shortest books in recent years, alway a plus for our busy students.

shining

 

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

nos4a2

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

First off, don’t be intimidated by this book’s 600 + pages.  I can promise that if you’re a horror fan, you will have trouble putting this book down, even to answer a text from your BFF.    Hill’s third book grab’s readers by their heartstrings with its main character Vic, who we see grow up from a sweet eight-year-old to a rebellious teen and finally a troubled and self-destructive adult.  Victoria McQueen has always had a secret knack for finding lost objects: when she was little she rode her Day Glo blue Raleigh Tuff Burner bike across the nearby Shorter Way covered bridge and “find” things to bring back to her real life.  Charles Manx also has special powers that he uses to  abduct children to take them to Christmasland, a carnival place covered with snow where every morning is Christmas day and children are never unhappy.  At least that’s what he says.   Manx kidnaps the young Vic in his haunted Rolls Royce, but she is the only child to ever escape from him using her own special powers.  Years later, he tries to kidnap Vic’s own son to exact his revenge, leading to an ultimate battle between light and dark forces.

This twisting tale is a genuine find for horror fans.  Hill makes good use of character development for his main players, while spicing the story with lots of fascinating minor characters.  The plot moves along quickly, with dates and places at the chapter headings to help readers navigate the complex plot.  I recommend this to horror fans, readers who love Stephen King (Hill’s real life dad!) and anyone wanting to immerse themselves in a dark tale with extreme spookiness.  You’ll never look at Christmas the same way after devouring this sumptuous title.

Warning: Some graphic gore but nothing fans of adult horror haven’t experienced before.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

coldest girl in coldtown

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

At seventeen, Tana’s world is different from our’s to say the least.  Instead of reading books about vampires, they have whole walled cities called Coldtowns where vampires can live legally, bound only by their imaginations.  One of them even live-streams his nightly parties at his spacious estate where human volunteers await selection by seductive vampires.  This unique take on the vampire genre will tantalize readers and hook them in for the whole roller coaster ride of a book.  In the thriller’s first chapter, Tana wakes up in a bathtub, stiff and disoriented.  Slowly she realizes that the last thing she remembers is being at a party in the house the previous evening.  Now, when she stealthily creeps out of the bathroom, she realizes she is the last human standing and begins a harrowing journey to save her ex-boyfriend Aidan who she finds tied down to the bed as a morning snack for the sleeping vampire boy on the floor.  Vampire attacks aren’t common anymore, but Tana realizes quickly that that is what’s happened here and the rest of her friends from the party are dead and drained laying throughout the house.  Desperate to save Aidan from “going cold” and becoming a vampire like her own mother did when she was only six, Tana strikes a deal with the vampire named Gavriel:  They will go to the nearest Coldtown and try to save Aidan.  The biggest problem might be that although what “happens in Coldtown stays in Coldtown,” leaving is almost impossible.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  It it fast-paced with completely interesting and unique main characters.  Black’s writing makes this book hard to set down, and I know our students will be fighting over it.  I recommend it to vampire and horror fan, but also to anyone looking for an engrossing title with something new to offer.  I could also see fans of Holly Black’s other supernatural books and Cassandra Clare readers loving this title.

Joyland by Stephen King

joyland

Joyland by Stephen King

Published originally only in paperback, this mystery/thriller harkens back to the pulp novels Stephen King used to read when he was young.  Hard Case Crime is the actual name of the publisher, which has created an appropriately lurid old time cover to go with King’s vision.  In contrast the King’s well-known horror novels, this is a quieter, quirky story that is as much a bildungsroman (coming of age novel) as a mystery about a serial killer still at large.  At just under 300 pages, it’s also one of the author’s shortest books.  It reminds me more of the tender underpinnings of books like Hearts in Atlantis and The Shawshank Redemption than it does the horror opuses like It or The Stand.  The story follows college student Devin Jones as he takes a summer job at an old-fashioned amusement park in 1971.  He’s trying to recover from a broken heart and becomes immersed in the “carny” life, as he meets a variety of characters that Stephen King is known for including in his stories.  Devin and readers are introduced to a dying boy and his beautiful but standoffish mother, a fortuneteller who was really a childless widow from Brooklyn if the off-season, and a boarding house owner who dispenses advice as easily as she does a mean grilled cheese sandwich.  He discovers the four-year-old unsolved murder when he begins seeing a ghost near the Horror House, in which she was killed during the ride with the murderer slipping out unseen.

I recommend this quick and easy read to all teen readers.  If you love King’s descriptive writing and quirky characters, this your book.  If you’ve always been intimidated by the writer’s 1000+ page tomes, this is your chance to try him in a bite-size portion.  If you’re just in the mood for a good mystery, pick this one up.  I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

colorado kid          hearts          different seasons