I love D. J. MacHale's writing style. I have compared his best-selling book series of 10, Pendragon, to the Harry Potter series a few times before, I believe. But after reading this new book, published just this year, I'm telling you this dude, without a single doubt, is in the stratosphere! He's in the leagues of J. K. Rowling and James Dashner here. I'm now certain that no matter what he writes, even if it's the farthest thing from Pendragon, (to tell the truth, this isn't that far from it 0,o) I will absolutely enjoy it.
I'm kicking myself for ever judging this book by it's cover. When I heard that MacHale would write a new horror series, I already thought "Oh, that's not for me," because as a rule, I don't pick up horror novels. I mean, maybe the books I read have some sort of horrors in them, but I never consciously think "I'm reading horror." Then when I started seeing this book in the store... well, look at it! Looked like a total creep fest to me. No way would I read this.
There where 2 things that gave me the confidence and curiosity to give this book a try. The first thing was Graham's review. He hasn't read as much Pendragon as I have (only the 1st book, in fact 0,o), but he liked MacHale's style as much as I did and he tested the waters for me. He gave it really positive marks and gave me the impression that I'd actually enjoy it. The second thing was the last time I was in the bookstore (this was after I read Graham's review). I saw the book on a shelf and I decided to take a small peek in it, see if I liked the beginning. I read the foreword by D. J. MacHale, which was as great as his Pendragon forewords. ^_^ Then I got to the prologue...
Which really hooked me in! You know why? Because this story actually seems to takes place in the same universe of Pendragon! The main character lives in Stony Brook! He eats fast food at the Garden Poultry! There's even a mention of Mark Dimond! Familiar territory, baby! ^_^ Now I've gotta read this thing. When I got home I reserved the book online, and the next time we go to the library, it's in my hands. Now I'm done with it. (Obviously, otherwise I wouldn't be writing a review for it.)
Where to begin? Well, there's these 2 guys, Marshal and Cooper, who share a similar relationship to Mark and Bobby. One is shy, responsible and likes graphic novels, the other is more popular and outgoing and doesn't care what others think of him. Without giving too much away (you can see more details from Graham's review), Cooper (the wild one) gets in trouble and goes missing, and Marshal (the quiet one) has to save him, with the help of Coop's older sister, Sydney. What's the catch? Well, like I said, it's a total creep fest... but I actually liked that. ^_^
Marsh is an artist and drew this character he calls the Gravedigger (the psycho on the cover). One night, the Gravedigger comes to life and starts haunting Marsh, giving him the creepiest supernatural visions. Scared out of his life, he gets Sydney (who at first is pretty mean to him) to take him up to the lake where Coop is spending the summer. But that's just the beginning. What follows is a chilling, suspenseful mystery and crazy paranormal events that would drive lesser folks over the deep end. But not our heroes, Marsh and Sydney. They may be scared, but they're on a mission: save Cooper.
The whole thing was written like an awesome movie! I could honestly see the action unfolding in my mind, as if a camera was showing everything. I guess it's no surprise, since MacHale also writes for TV. My favorite scenes are when Marsh is being haunted for the first time, in his house, at night, all by himself (Dad is conveniently out of the picture on a business trip) and this bloody wave scene right out of the movie The Shining. Anyone know about that scene? Totally creepy, but a priceless scene nonetheless. A few chapters before it finishes, the mystery is solved and it seems like it's going to be a sad and bittersweet ending (there's a very touching funeral), but then the action comes back full-force. There is plainly a reason why this is going to be a trilogy.
If, like me, you fell in love with Pendragon, I see no reason why you shouldn't feel comfortable curling up with this book. It's just the kind of story that sucks you in on a wild ride you'll never forget!