Thursday, June 13, 2013

Shelf Life [kids]

Mind Gap by Marina Cohen, 168 pages.

When Jake was a young child, he dreamed of being invisible, of being able to sneak around and do things without being noticed or questioned. Now he is invisible, caught in a freaky “mind gap” or alternative universe, against his will. Jake can see his distraught mom and younger brother, who fear that the worst has happened to him – but they can’t see him or hear him. He’s unable to comfort them, and it is a horrible, helpless feeling.
How long will he be trapped in a limbo where no one can see him or hear him – as if he no longer exists? Does he still exist?
Fourteen-year-old Jake has been making too many wrong choices lately – at school, at home and with his friendships. He’s been hanging out with some gang members who are into gambling and other things. His latest choice was sneaking out to attend a midnight flash party, which he never reached. Instead, Jake is now caught in a nightmarish adventure that may never end.
Worse, he realizes that he has inadvertently put his brother, Drew, in terrible danger.
Jake can only hope that he will soon be given an opportunity to make another choice – a choice that can save his brother’s life.
Marina Cohen’s chilling, paranormal thriller features a teen with feelings which will be familiar to many readers. It’s satisfying to see Jake eventually emerge from the thoughtless past behaviour which has hurt his family, to assuming responsibility by the end of the story.
Although it delivers a message about making choices, this fast-paced story never becomes preachy and would be a good choice for both reluctant and avid readers. 
** Recommended for ages 11 to 14 years.
Beyond by Graham McNamee, 226 pages.
@ SPL: YA McNam
Lexi is the only person who knows the grim secret of her best friend, Jane. She knows the truth behind Jane’s near-fatal “accidents” – why she swallowed drain cleaner, grabbed a live wire, almost threw herself under a moving train and most recently, aimed a nail gun at her own head.
People in Jane’s community think that she tried to kill herself on these occasions, but Lexi knows better.
Jane’s shadow has been trying to kill her.  More than once, it has pushed her into danger. In the most recent incident, there were a few seconds before the doctors could bring Jane back to life.  During those seconds, she could sense a malevolent “something” waiting for her in the darkness. What did it want? Now Jane wonders if she is being haunted by a force from beyond the grave – a force which may have taken over her shadow.
Then Jane crosses paths with a real-life serial killer, and her next “accident” is far more horrible than anything she could have imagined.
Graham McNamee’s skillful mix of the real and the paranormal makes this dark horror thriller truly terrifying. As the tension builds, it is almost impossible to put the book down – or to stop thinking about the story when it’s over!
** Recommended for ages 12 to 15 years
This review appears in The Stratford Gazette on June 13, 2013. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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