Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Dead Boys - for Tween Tuesday

Tween Tuesday was started over at Green Bean Teen Queen as away to highlight awesome books for the 9-12 yr olds or Tweens. Any book highlighted on Tween Tuesday also counts for the In the Middle Reading Challenge! This week's book is:

Buckingham, Royce. The Dead Boys. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons - Penguin Young Readers Group, 2010. Print.
[Book cover credit: librarything.com/work/9872472]

When Teddy moves to the small town of Richland so that his mother can work at the nuclear power plant upstream, he is inexplicably drawn to the abandoned house and HUGE tree next door. But when he wakes up in the middle of the night to find tree branches sneaking through his bedroom window trying to get to him, he realizes the tree is much more dangerous and sinister than he could ever have imagined.

This book is pretty creepy. For me, the creepiness was compounded by the "about the author," which appears at the beginning of my ARC, telling a bit about Buckingham's childhood in Richland, downstream from a nuclear power plant and with a huge and gnarly sycamore tree in his back yard. If this ends up coming at the end of the published book, I think it'll add a little chill after everything is over and done with. Because I read it at the beginning, I kept thinking, "This is a real place!" even if the things happening in it are clearly fiction.

Warped by toxic nuclear waste that was dumped into the river during the Manhattan project, the tree next to Teddy's house has decided that it no longer likes to draw it's energy from the sun and the water. It likes to suck energy from twelve-year-old boys. And it's been doing just that for decades. Teddy, new to town, is looking to meet new friends and runs into a few of the trees past victims. At first these boys seem a bit odd to him, but not so out of place that he doubts their existence. The bell bottoms and "wiseacre" sayings were a big tip-off to me that these kids were visiting from the past, but middle grade readers might, like Teddy, just think he's moved into a tiny town in the middle of nowhere and so a little behind the times.

Teddy is slow to figure out what is really going on, but not so slow that I wanted to shake him. Near misses with the tree also kept the suspense at a high, distracting me from Teddy's sometimes sluggish sleuthing. By the time he gets it all sorted out, Teddy is either going to be the tree's next victim or the tree's downfall. In trying to save himself, he has to decide if he wants to/can also save the boys who have been trying to help the tree, the only kids he's met at all in Richland.

Again, this was a creepy book. Those chapters about the tree breaking in to Teddy's window while he's sleeping are best not read right before bed. Surprising choices about loyalty and doing what is right verses doing what is best for you right now make The Dead Boys a slightly more substantial read than your average horror book.

The Dead Boys comes out this Thursday!

Book source: ARC picked up at ALA


Heather H. said...

I'm a huge fan of creepy books, so this one sounds amazing to me. THE DEAD BOYS looks like a good choice to help me better explore the middle grade genre!

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

ooh-this one does sound creepy! I still get freaked out over books like this, but tweens love them!!

Lawral the Librarian said...

Heather H. - If you're into the creepy, this one is definitely for you! I think it would be a great entre into middle grade fiction as there isn't a lot of typical tween action but rather good use of suspense tropes.

GreenBean - Me too! That warning not to read before bed was not theoretical or just for the kiddies. ;)