“Your soul was so new and bright. Like a firefly. I kept you close, kept you safe. And you were mine.” – Page 181
I am a rabid Stephen King fan. It’s just a fact of life in my house (kinda like breathing, or my inability to change out the garbage bag in the kitchen.) If there is a new book. I will buy it. Do not try to stop me or I will bite of your pinky toe. So when I got a catalog from Hachette in December with a book in it that said “If Stephen King wrote YA…” I knew I had to read it.
I will admit, my expectations weren’t all that high. It is Stephen King after all, and if you are going to throw around the king of screams name like it’s two dollar popcorn, then you better have the balls (lady or otherwise) to back it up. And by balls I mean a very compelling way to write something horribly disturbing. (But I’m sure y’all got that. You are a smart bunch of book monkeys after all.)
Anyways…a few hours in to the book I ran across this passage:
“Pulled from my doze, I try to open my eyes. But they won’t open! Must be sticky with too much mascara gunk and sleep sand. I start rubbing and feel something weird. What is this? Under my fingertips it feels like I’ve got false eyelashes stuck on, gluing my eyes shut. But I never wear those. I try to pull whatever it is off, but it won’t come loose. It seems more like…thread? Stitches! As If my lids are sewn shut.”
and instantly knew that Graham McNamee was the real deal.
“Jane is not your typical teen. She and her best friend Lexi call themselves the Creep Sisters. Only Lexi knows why Jane is different from anyone else: Her own shadow seems to pull her into near-fatal accidents. Jane is determined to find out why these terrifying things happen, and to overcome her shadow enemy. Her sleuthing with Lexi connects her own horrors to the secret history of a serial killer.”
There is nothing more freighting than the realization that your own body is betraying you. Ok, that’s not really true. Your shadow betraying you is worse. In Jane’s case…it’s deadly. But…let’s start at chapter one, shall we?
I remember dying.
After I got injured my heart stopped and I flat-lined.
I was done and gone. But I wasn’t alone.
There was something waiting for me when I died. Something dark and cold tried to take my soul away.
When they brought me back to life I escaped from it. Left it behind.
But what if it came back with me, followed me home like a hungry stray?
There you go…chapter one. In its entirety, and in my humble opinion genius.
You know that old saying “sometimes less is more?” Well, McNamee nailed it. Instead of rambling for pages he kept things short, sweet (uh hum, ok, maybe not sweet…exactly) and to the point. Each chapter read more like flash fiction than a precursor to bigger and better things, and because of this the books pace was incredibly fast. Now, don’t misunderstand me…I’m not saying that the plot stalled from chapter to chapter, it didn’t. What I’m saying is that McNamee found an incredibly stimulating way to cluster all of the pertinent information into its own individual chapter.
Think of it this way.
A question was posed. (How in the world did she die?)
An answer was given. (Oh, —– to the —. Got it.)
And in the end…all of those seemingly random answers led to a “Oh hell no!!!” moment of pure literary magic. (Wait….are you trying to tell me that her SHADOW reached down, picked up —– and — her in the —? Whoa!”
Leaving out all of the unnecessary babble only made what was on the page seem that much more important. For example:
It’s like I’m caught in some kind of dream., keeping me here. Slowly, I lean forward to peer into that gap.
So dark down there, where the light barely reaches…
An eye stares back at me. Pressed to the hole.
Screaming, I fall back. I scramble away till I hit the wall.
Wake up! Now!
That’s not real. Not real.
I’m shivering so bad I can’t stand.
Across the floor I see something move in the gap. Reaching up. Fingers. Muddy fingers, crawling like spider legs. Feeling around the edges of the hole.
This passage could have easily span three of four paragraph, hell….a page. Instead it’s blunt delivery rouses stark emotions. As if YOU are the one in the room, experiencing the panic and loss of control. Not Jane.
As for the rest (aka the plot, the character building…the ending) they were all significantly better than I ever could have imagined. Right down to the part where I was overwhelmed with pity for Jane’s shadow. Is McNamee the next Stephen King? That’s debatable. But his ability to suck you in with a few poetically creepy stanzas and a jaw dropping ending definitely has him headed in the right direction.
In short…I liked it.
If you fancy ghost stories, this one will not disappoint. If you find yourself disturbed by them…you should probably head in the other direction. This one is chock-full of crazies!
Happy reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: sometimes pain does actually equal gain.
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