David C. Cook, Aug 1 2010, $14.99
Following his parents’ divorce, Chris Buckley knows leaving Chicago suburb Libertyville, Illinois to live with his mom in her hometown of Solitary, North Carolina will require a major adjustment. At the high school, he is an outsider as 99% of the 700 students would not know Strangeways, Here We Come by the Smiths; however thanks to his murky T-shirt picture he meets the 1%, three Goth juniors. The silent one Jocelyn Evans helps him find his classroom, but he is a bit taken aback when the other kids stare at him as if he was a disease.
Chris is attracted to the enigmatic Jocelyn, who he realizes is a pariah beyond just being a Goth Girl. However, as he pursues her wanting her as his girlfriend; she rejects his advances though she is attracted to him. He and his mom are warned to stay away from Jocelyn, but when he asks why, no one responds; not even the teen he adores who likewise warns him. Chris’s pursuit soon proves dangerous to him and his mom though he remains ignorant as to what is going on in spirited Solitary confinement.
Although targeting young adults, older readers will also appreciate this terrific dark teen thriller in which the increasing eeriness of the town leads to a frightening sinister atmosphere. The audience will anticipate the worst will happen, which is a doubled edged sword as it adds tension but also the intelligent Chris feels the same way as the reader yet allows himself to fall for duplicity several times though one might claim love makes people do dumb things. The support cast is strong including the hero’s “club” and those staring strangers as Travis Thrasher provides an exciting taut horror thriller.