Showing posts with label Young Adult. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Young Adult. Show all posts

Friday, October 20, 2023

Halloween - The Scream Factory

The Halloween film franchise has been going strong for nearly a half-century. Who knew that a babysitter killer could spark so much interest from fans while simultaneously creating enough timelines and multiverses to compete with Marvel Comics. Depending on your level of fandom, you are just casually watching Michael Myers stalk his prey through 11 films (Halloween III doesn't count) or piecing together the various movies into separate timelines. For me personally, this is my favorite horror franchise and I watch the films religiously. In my mind, I've organized them all into various categories and timelines, but I've never bothered with the novels. 

In paperback format, there are novelizations for seven Halloween films and at least one fan-fiction novelization (Halloween 5 by Jake Martin). However, besides the novelizations, Berkley published three original paperbacks in the late 1990s – The Scream Factory (1997), The Old Myers Place (1997), and The Mad House (1998). These three novels, averaging 150 pages, were catered for young adults and featured Michael Myers doing what he does best – hunting teens in Haddonfield, IL. The books were authored by Kelly 'O Rourke (aka Kelly Reno) and aren't related to each other. These are stand-alone stories. This review is for The Scream Factory, the first of the three paperbacks. 

Ultimately, this novel only references events in the 1978 Halloween film. There is a mention of a body count, but it isn't correct. The book ignores any sequels, which makes it much easier to simply enjoy as a stand-alone horror novel. The knowledge that the Halloween film ended with Michael Myers being shot by his doctor and then disappearing is the only prerequisite needed. 

It's now 1997 and the small town of Haddonfield talks about Michael Myers as if he is an urban myth. The town's youth mostly designates the killer as a thing of legend, nothing more, nothing less. Myers hasn't been seen since 1978. High school student Lori Parker collaborates with her friend Sally to throw a large Halloween party in the basement of Haddonfield City Hall. The party, aptly titled The Scream Factory, will be a gathering of high school students and a local band (fronted by Lori's romantic interest). 

The events prior to the party leads to Myers appearance. In a series of murders, Myers begins killing some of Lori's friends and members of the town's staff. Myers is described as being covered in mud and having dirty hair, which brought to mind the imagery of “homeless” Myers in Rob Zombie's Halloween remake. Myers also does some things that are more in line with Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th), showing supernatural strength by dragging a large tree across a highway. But, at other times he is calling Lori on the phone and making bizarre noises or placing jack 'o lanterns at various locations (with a knife). Rather odd behavior that seems to contrast with the movie versions.

The Scream Factory isn't great, nor is it scary. But, I will state for the record that this is more of an “adult” horror novel than young adult in terms of savage violence and some gore. I'm not completely convinced this is a young adult book despite the clownish cover art. If you just have to consume everything Michael Myers, then by all means read this. Otherwise, just stick to the films, novelizations, and the occasional graphic novel.

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Friday the 13th - Mother's Day

The Friday the 13th film franchise isn't a stranger to media tie-in fiction. Nicholas Valentin Yermakov, using the name Simon Hawke, authored four novelizations of film installments (Friday the 13th I, II, III, VI) and popular crime-fiction author Michael Avallone also authored a novelization, Friday the 13th III (using an alternate ending not filmed). Arguably, the film franchise “jumped the shark” long before 1993, but it was this year that the Jason Voorhees character ventured into an unusual area – Hell.

After seven films of Jason attacking camp counselors, the eighth film, Jason Takes Manhattan, placed the hockey-masked murderer on a yacht and in Manhattan of all things. But, as odd as that film was, it would pale in comparison to the wildly outrageous Jason Goes to Hell

1993's Jason Goes to Hell re-positioned the unstoppable undead character into a more supernatural universe that incorporated other people performing as the Camp Crystal Lake killer. In this film, the long rumored idea of Camp Crystal Lake being haunted or cursed comes to fruition. Jason's heart is apparently affected by a supernatural power, so when a possessed coroner takes a bite out of Jason's heart, he becomes the killer. Through the course of the film, various people are “possessed” by Jason's curse. While some fans embraced the film, others felt it went a little far and distanced itself from what made the film franchise so successful – suspense, atmosphere, terror. Jason Goes to Hell also kick-started more unusual franchise additions like Jason X (Jason in space!) and Freddy vs Jason

If nothing else, Jason Goes to Hell does deserve some credit for thrusting the film franchise back into media tie-in fiction after a seven year absence. In 1994, Berkley published four young-adult novels that tie-in to the events that took place in Jason Goes to Hell. These four stand-alone novels, Mother's Day, Jason's Curse, The Carnival, and Road Trip. The books were all authored by William Pattison using the pseudonym Eric Morse. In 2011, Pattison released a fifth book, The Mask of Jason Voorhees, as a free PDF download. Being a fan of the film franchise, I decided to try the books out beginning with Mother's Day.

After numerous murders, Camp Crystal Lake now lies abandoned. Somewhere in the vicinity, a hunter named Joe Travers is stalking through the forest and stumbles on a white stone. Curious about the stone, Travers begins digging beneath it and discovers a rotted cardboard box containing Jason's deceased mother's head, which is somehow alive. The head begins to talk to Joe and gives him specific instructions to obtain construction equipment to dig up Jason's hockey mask. In doing so, Joe dons the mask and becomes possessed by the spirit of Jason Voorhees. 

In Newkirk, Massachusetts, the book's young protagonist, high-schooler Carly receives an invite from a high-school dropout named Boone. The plan is for Boone, Carly, and four other kids to take a weekend trip to Camp Cystal Lake to party. Carly, a shy virgin (the prerequisite for Final Girl material) agrees to go if her mother will consent. Later, Carly discovers that Boone called her mother and pretended to be a teacher to gain permission for the trip. So, these six kids head to the abandoned Camp Cystal Lake campground where Jason Voorhees is now alive and well through the body of Joe Travers. This should be fun.

Like the film series, the campers receive a warning when they stop for gas just outside the campground. A man named Ned warns the group “...there's evil in the air all around this lake. If you live here too long, it gets in your blood, it gets you thinking bad things.” Later, readers discover how true that statement is when it is disclosed that Ned lives in a house with his mother's dead body. Obviously, the campers ignore Ned's warning and embark on the camping trip.

Pattison's storytelling is fast-paced and surprisingly violent considering this is a young-adult novel. At just 114 pages, the body count begins to rise around page 80. With six potential victims for “Jason” to prey on, the action moves around the campground with familiar kills happening in the lake's water, around the cabins, and in the dense forest. As the body-count dwindles to just Carly (not a spoiler, anyone worth their salt should realize she is the survivor), the book encompasses that same frenzied feeling executed by the various films – final girl versus Jason. The chase scenes scurry around locked cars, wrecked motorcycles, open graves, and the hiking trails around the lake. 

It was obvious that Pattison really enjoys the Friday the 13th franchise, and his writing was top-notch even with the irritating teenage point-of-view (boy-chasing, social uneasiness). In terms of the violence I alluded to earlier, the book also presents some nightmarish sequences containing slimy grotesque worms. The combination of hack 'n slash and supernatural elements was excellent. If you enjoy the film franchise, then I highly recommend Mother's Day. It has everything you know and love about the films.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Monday, May 8, 2023

Firebrats #02 - Survivors

Lots of married couples find it hard to live with each other. Some detest spending long periods of the day with their partner for life. Imagine going to work with your wife every day? Thankfully, Scott and Barbara Siegel aren't one of those couples. In fact, their marriage is so strong that it supported both of them living, loving, and working side-by-side. Beginning in the early 1980s, both Barbara and Scott Siegel authored books together under numerous franchises like G.I. Joe, Transformers, Dragonlance, Star Trek, and Dark Forces. The majority of their literary work is the young adult genre.

For years I've hunted for a four-book series by the Siegels titled Fire Brats. It's an odd title, but a familiar scenario. Two Americans attempt to live and survive in the aftermath of a devastating nuclear bomb attack. The books were published between 1987-1988 by Archway, a subsidiary of Pocket Books. At the time of publishing, the paperback market was ripe with post-apocalyptic titles like The Survivalist, Deathlands, and Doomsday Warrior. I've never seen a copy of any of these books out in the wild. The books are scarce, which drives up the second-hand costs. I've seen these novels fetch up to $50 on Ebay. But, archive.org has the last three series installments available to read online.

Skipping a series debut is typically frowned upon in this household, but in this case it was necessary. Jumping into Survivors, the second installment, I quickly get the gist of the series. Matt (male) and Dani (female) are teenagers that grew up in the small town of Fair Oaks. From what I gather through the characters' brief reflections, the United States was nuked by an unknown country and now its major cities and metropolis areas are piles of rubble. Dani and Matt were able to seek shelter underground, and as Survivors begin, they emerge four days later on a journey west. Apparently Dani's parents were killed, but Matt's family may still be alive in California, thus the series will follow their trek through the wastelands.

The two characters spend a night in an abandoned Burger King (in what may be Colorado), and then attempt to cross a large river on a homemade raft. The raft disintegrates and the two are briefly thrust into the raging river to become separated. Eventually, the two reunite and journey into the wilderness and find a cabin that is fully stocked with weeks of food. The place even has running water, farm animals, books, and a fireplace. This is paradise for Matt and Dani, so they decide to stay for a while.

The cabin's owner is an old man named Ordway, who surprises the kids with a pointed shotgun. He has dealt with a lot of bad guys since the bombs fell, so he immediately thinks these teens are out to rob and murder him. After marching the duo outside for an execution, Matt is able to fight the old guy. As a result, the kids wrestle his gun away and Ordway breaks a leg. After explaining they mean no harm, and that they thought the cabin was abandoned, Ordway loosens up and makes a deal with the kids. He'll train them on what they will need to know to survive in this new world. They will help him around the house for a few weeks until his leg heals. 

At 155 pages, Survivors mostly spends the bulk of the book on the two kids interacting with Ordway to learn how to make weapons, hunt, and what to eat in the forest (who knew you could eat tree bark?). The book's last 50ish pages introduces a small band of mean scavengers looking to capture/rape Dani and claim the house. The finale has the kids using slingshots and bows to defend the cabin while Ordway attempts to fend off the attackers with a broken shotgun. 

Despite being juvenile fiction, I found Survivors to be a lot of fun. It reminded me of the first Survivalist novel with the prepping techniques and education, but the quest and action is reminiscent of Survival 2000. Dani, Matt, and Ordway possess endearing qualities that make them lovable. The introduction of the bad guys was inevitable, and the final fight and pursuit was engaging and well-written. While the book lagged a little in the middle, it was a good intermission to prepare for a rowdy end. 

I look forward to reading the rest of the series and I'm grateful that someone took the opportunity to scan most of the books. They are long out of print and very few libraries or book stores carry them in their current catalogs. If you love the 1980s post-apocalyptic stuff, then Fire Brats is sure to please. In a similar fashion, you might also enjoy the dystopian 1980s series U.S.S.A., which seems to be equally hard to find and expensive. Archive.org has at least one of the series' three books.

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

House of Stairs

William Sleator (1945-2011) was a Harvard graduate that authored science-fiction and young adult novels from 1970 through 2011. I wasn't aware of his literary work, but was happy to discover House of Stairs at a local used bookstore. It was originally published by Avon in 1974 and has since been reprinted numerous times in multiple formats.

The book consists of five sixteen-year old kids being taken from various orphanages and state institutions and placed in a seemingly endless world of stairs. There are no walls or rails, just platforms connected by stairs that lead in different directions to more stairs. The first to arrive is Peter, blindfolded and shoved from an elevator into this stairway nightmare. Inside the maze, he finds a girl named Lola. Together, the duo stumbles upon another stairway resident, a girl named Blossom. She has found a small, disc-shaped machine that releases a small food pellet each time she sticks out her tongue.

The three are later joined by Abigail and Oliver, and collectively the five of them share a small backstory of how they came to arrive in the maze. Like any novel that places ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, alliances are formed and enemies are made. In this case, Lola and Peter form a partnership and attempt to exist “upstairs” away from the others. The motivation for alienation is that the food machine changes its preferences on when to deliver the pellets. As the hours morph into days, the group soon becomes starved and forced to abuse each other in order for the food pellets to be delivered. You see, physical and verbal abuse awards the group with food while kindness and generosity produces starvation. The horror!

At 156 pages, House of Stairs is a brisk, macabre little novel that says so much about humanity's will to survive. It was interesting to watch the deterioration of human kindness when pushed to the breaking point physically and emotionally. With the idea that time isn't a factor, a rescue isn't feasible, and escape is impossible, these kids spiral into madness and depravity. It's a young adult novel, but there are some violent scenes and sadistic overtones.

I enjoyed this book a lot and found the central mystery as a propulsive, consistent plot development. I will say it is a bit dated with some situations and the ending left me a bit underwhelmed. If you love survival horror like The Mist or The Ruins, then House of Stairs should provide just enough literary terror to quench your thirst. Recommended. 

Buy a copy of the book HERE.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Five Total Strangers

I spend a lot of time at Target. My wife loves the place and one of my daughters loves throwing away wads of cash for overpriced records of today's trendy pop stars. What's a book-loving Dad supposed to do other than abandon the dependents at the shoe aisle and then hang for a half-hour in the ragtag section of books that Target deems as literature? The end-result is that the family walks out with dog toys, socks, those little colored egg-shaped lip balms and any modern thriller that resembles a horror novel with blurbs like “addictive and unpredictable”. Thus, this is the reason I now own Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards.

When readers first meet Mira, she's landed in a Philadelphia airport at the start of a blizzard outside. She's a teenager, in high school, and her decision making skills aren't fabulous. Due to the next flight being canceled, she decides to take a free ride from her seatmate, an arrogant young woman named Harper. It's like an early scene out of the old John Hughes' film Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. This awkward pairing with a complete stranger then becomes complicated. Harper claims that three of her friends will be joining them in the car because they all need a ride. Yet, once they are collectively joined in the vehicle, Mira learns that the trio of people are complete strangers to Harper. Why did she lie?

The author includes these eerie, handwritten notes every few chapters from Mira's secret admirer. As the book continues, readers will notice that the notes are written months after the events that take place on Mira's ride from Hell. The notes also suggest that whoever is writing them was a passenger in Harper's car that day, but readers won't learn their identity until the book's final chapters. 

Five Total Strangers has all of the ingredients for a successful thriller – suspicious people, a harrowing event, an inescapable situation, and a terrifying atmosphere. The author's use of ice and snow on Pennsylvania's rural back roads made the atmosphere nearly claustrophobic, heightening the intensity inside the car. 

As good as these ingredients are, the book is just too long at 300 pages. Eventually, the mystery and the shady passengers couldn't keep my attention, which ruined the ultimate reveal at the end. By that point I just wanted the ride to be over. If you love slow-burns, then this one may be for you. I will add that the book is young-adult, but nearly all of the horror and thrillers these days caters to that audience, so don't let that throw you off. If you can get it for a few bucks, it might be worth your time. 

Get the book HERE.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Protectors #01 - The Petrova Twist

Sometimes referred to as the “Stephen King” of young adult fiction, Robert Lawrence Stine (R.L. Stine) is a true literary icon. He's written a number of young adult horror series titles like Goosebumps, Rotten School, The Nightmare Room, Fear Street, Mostly Ghostly as well as dozens of stand-alone titles. As Jovial Bob Stine, the author has released a slew of humorous joke books. In addition to his own creations, Stine has contributed series entries for G.I. Joe, Man-Thing, Masters of the Universe and the movie novelizations for Ghostbusters II, Spaceballs and Big Top Pee-Wee. How does any of this interest Men's Action-Adventure fans?

In February 1987, Scholastic published the first of a two book series called The Protectors. It was titled The Petrova Twist and was written by Stine under the pseudonym Zachary Blue. The idea was to cash in on the men's team-based commando popularity of the time period. Able Team, Phoenix Force, S.O.B. and other long-running series titles had tremendous marketing success in the 1980s. Using that idea, complete with similarly themed cover art, Stine introduced a team of high-school kids who are employed by the U.S. government to fight international crime. 

Here's the line-up:

- Matt O'Neal – He's an engineering genius. Think of Gadgets Schwarz of Able Team.

- Lu Golden – The martial arts guy from Vietnam.

- Riana Riggs – African-American girl with a photographic memory.

- Micky Malano – She's the master of disguises. A less violent Death Merchant Richard Camellion.

- John Wendell Waterford IV – The wealthy guy who can rub shoulders with high society.

In the book's opening chapters, each of these high-school students receive a special invitation from The White House to attend a special awards ceremony celebrating their tremendous academic success. Oddly, they can't bring any adults, and it's a solo trip for each of them (the 80s were so safe). 

Once they arrive in Washington D.C., the kids meet each other in a strange warehouse where they are introduced to Tiger Browne. He informs the kids that they have been carefully selected to serve in a government agency called CENTRAL. This agency will combat international crime and assist other government agencies on special assignments. Without any training, the team is assigned the task of helping a Soviet gymnast named Elena Petrova defect to the U.S. Will they succeed?

Mostly this book is fairly lousy. At almost 200-pages, the entire narrative takes place at an auditorium or the kids' hotel. This tight location setting left me feeling confined and limited in my imagination. Granted this is a young adult novel, I still found the action to be very minimal compared to other kids' fiction. Essentially, the team has no experience, receives no training or guidance and botches the whole thing up from start to finish. These types of high-octane action novels aren't meant to be plausible and The Protectors proclaims that limitation with an astounding voice. The entire plot is just senseless. There's a swerve ending that clears up most of my confusion regarding the narrative and story-line but I was still really disappointed. 

The last few pages of this book sets up the idea that CENTRAL becomes the elite PROTECTORS and must fight a terrorist group called CONQUEST in the next book, The Jet Fighter Trap. I'll probably still read it because I'm a completest, but you can do so much better with this genre.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Strange Intruder

Arthur Catherall (1906-1980) was an adventurer at heart. From climbing mountains in Lapland and Algeria to sailing trawlers in the Atlantic and Arctic, the British author certainly had many life experiences to inspire his literary work. Utilizing over six different pseudonyms, Catherall wrote a high volume of young adult novels like “The Strange Intruder”. This sweeping 1964 adventure tale was first released as “The Strange Invader” before being reprinted by Archway as “The Strange Intruder” in 1968.

While never specifying a time period, the novel seems to be set in the present day (1964). The wind-swept location is the chilly Faroes Islands, geographically positioned north of the British Isles and just Southeast of Iceland. In the book's opening pages we read that the 900-ton schooner Faroes Seeker has struck an old wheelhouse assembly and torn the ship's hull. Miles off coast, the crew becomes stranded and forced to use battered sails on storm-ravaged seas. 

The book's young protagonist is Sven Klakk, a 16-year old fishermen learning the trade with his uncles. He's part of a small village living on the islands and has enough experience with a plethora of rigging, climbing, fishing and...adventuring. In some ways Sven is the life of the island, always there to help the elders while slowly evolving into a full-time role as statesman. Sven and his father see the ship and eventually round up the village to start making supplies available for the surviving crewmen.

In a wild turn of events, the villagers spot a crew member jumping from the ship and swimming to a storm-battered enclave. Sven, panicking to save the swimmer, races to the cliffs and the narrative really builds steam as we learn the crew member is actually a polar bear escaping captivity from the ship. Once Sven meets the bear...the fight is on. With very little supplies, an old shotgun and the storm raging on the island, the story has Sven and the villagers fighting off a ravenous polar bear that's angry out of his element.

Like most of Catherall's work, this is a coming of age tale about a young man saving his village. Metaphorically, the bear is Sven's own childhood raging to break free. With the backdrop of swollen seas, rocky cliffs and island life, the author creates a vivid, enjoyable adventure read for anyone. I'm passing it on to a 67-year old to read next. The kid in us never really ages.

Buy a copy of the book HERE

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Deathwatch

Author Robb White concentrated on juvenile fiction, writing nearly 30 novels between 1935-1985 (he passed away in 1990). Along with novels, he teamed with horror director William Castle to pen screenplays, including classics like “House on Haunted Hill” and “The Tingler”, both featuring the iconic Vincent Price. Along with feature films, he wrote television scripts for “Perry Mason”, “The Silent Service” and “Men of Annapolis”. His 1956 novel “Up Periscope” was adapted to film in 1959 starring James Gardner (later to be spoofed in 1996's film “Down Periscope”). His most identifiable work is the 1972 young adult title “Deathwatch”, a Scholastic mainstay in school libraries in the 70s and 80s. The novel was adapted for film twice – 1974's “Savages” starring Andy Griffith and 2015's “Beyond the Reach” starring Michael Douglas. The fact that it received film treatments twice speaks volumes. It's simply a fantastic story.

Young Ben is a college student who works as a hunting guide in what I presume is a California desert. His client is a pompous Los Angeles businessman named Madec, who is in the desert for a week with Ben hunting bighorn sheep. In the opening chapter, Madec claims he sees horns on a mountainside and fires. Unfortunately, Madec mistakenly shot an elderly prospector. Ben hands his own rifle to Madec and hikes down the mountain to gather a sheet for the body and to drive the Jeep a little closer. Upon return to the corpse, Madec makes a plea and attempts to bribe Ben into disposing of the body and continuing on the hunt. Ben refuses and things get rather grim quickly.

Madec then leaves Ben in the desert in his underwear with no food or water. He knows Ben will never make the exhausting 40 mile trek to freedom, but will stand by and “harass” Ben. Thus, White's narrative is fully developed. Ben makes a run for it, hoping to survive harsh conditions and Madec's rifle shots. The bulk of the story is Ben's will to survive under the most extreme conditions. While catering to young adults, it cuts no corners. Ben's feet start to erode off as he walks on hot and jagged rocks, losing blood while becoming dehydrated. His saving grace is finding an old sling-shot, which he uses to his advantage to hunt and defend.

While the “hunt human prey” adventure story is compelling, the author steps up with the book's closing chapters. Seamlessly, the book changes locations from desert to sheriff's office. It's this portion that showcases more of a legal drama, recapping the events from both Ben and Madec's points of view. It's just as fascinating as the fast-paced desert survival yarn. Overall, White's “Deathwatch” is a classic adventure tale that's still in print.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

U.S.S.A. #01 - Book One

“It’s 1996. The Fight to Save America Has Just Begun”. This slogan adorns the top of Tom De Haven’s ‘U.S.S.A.’ debut, “Book One” (also seen online as “Top Secret”). With its Avon release in 1987, this young adult novel paints a disturbing portrait of a future Dystopian America. De Haven borrows a bit from Ray Bradbury’s iconic ‘Fahrenheit 451’ to fuel this nightmarish vision of the United States of Secure America, a military controlled, ultra-right-wing state that has aligned closely with the Soviet Union. While “freedom” is still a viable option, its sacrifices are free speech, independent media and privacy. While the book was written and released in the 80s, a lot of the author’s themes and ideas predict what is happening in our own present day. It’s unsettling, yet a vivid reminder of how liberty is a hard fought and precious commodity.

In the book’s premise, a coup occurs in Washington on January 19th, 1995 that eliminates the government’s infrastructure. Congress is ultimately fired, along with the president. The military, led by a de-facto leader named General Sawchuk, takes control of the US proclaiming it the U.S.S.A. They align with the ultra-right-wing policies of the Soviet Union and, together, begin a worldwide campaign to tackle the Middle East and Mexico. All of this is recounted in the early chapters by the main character, Eddie Ludlow, in first person narrative.

At the beginning of the novel we learn that one year has passed since the coup, and patriotic “renewal” is enforced by aggressive New Cops and the military. Eddie is a high school student living in a small, midwestern town. The novel’s opening pages has Eddie and some friends sneaking off to a secret bazaar that allows students to sell and swap banned music. In a horrifying scene that echoes Bradbury, we see the New Cops arrive, dousing all of the outlawed media with flamethrowers. While that sort of imagery doesn’t envelope the entire novel, it definitely sets the tone that this is a foreign US.

A majority of this series opener is spent on just the day to day activities in and out of high school. It’s catered to the young adult crowd (arguably 12-17) so you won’t find heavy gunfire. There’s some, not a lot. Instead this one really soaks up the atmosphere of a very different “land of the free”. There’s one news channel and it is state controlled. Robotic birds serve as roving “big brother” cameras. The school only uses state propaganda and regularly replaces teachers with new government heads. One of Eddie’s teachers, Mr. Graham, asks, “Is patriotism – the love of one’s country – always the same thing as the love of one’s government?” This is during a discussion of ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’. Later, Eddie learns that Mr. Graham has been fired and seemingly homeless after challenging his students to think outside of the box.

While Eddie’s day to day is outlined, De Haven introduces some lovable characters in Mike, Roger and Eddie’s love interest, B.J. As the kids start to question their existence in the new regime, they team with an underground resistance group headed by “Denim Guy”. He challenges the group to think about the USA and how important it was and still is. They all strive to fight back, but understand “freedom isn’t won in an hour”. There’s a number of smaller plot lines – Eddie’s father is a reporter and is filming various protests across the country. B.J.’s father is employed as a scientist by the military and questions his country’s morals and ethics. The book’s finale is a bullet ridden chase scene that propels the story into later books.

De Haven was born in 1949 and I can see where his life experiences factored into the story. 50s and early 60s rock and roll could have been a bit taboo for him as a young man, perhaps an inspiration for some of the anti-media tactics of the New Cops. The author has written several fantasy novels, a Superman book and comes back to this series for it’s last entry, book four. I think he did a fantastic job placing himself into Eddie’s “young” thought process. The pacing is about right for this introductory tale, but will need to pick up as the series progresses forward. I own book two also but will need to locate and purchase the others. Based on this volume, it should be money well spent.

Buy a copy of this book HERE