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Monday, October 12, 2015

REVIEW: What Waits in the Woods by Kieran Scott

Callie Valesquez is a city girl.  Nothing sounds more unpleasant or terrifying than spending several nights out in the wilderness. However, Callie is desperate to bond with her new popular best friends, Lissa and Penelope, and her boyfriend of six months, Jeremy. But strange things start happening in the woods, someone might be watching them and other events gone awry leave them lost with no means of communication and very little supplies.  It appears as if they've been "saved" when Ted finds them and says he has a cabin nearby.  But can he be trusted?

Already on edge, relationships are put the test when secrets are revealed.  Callie feels betrayed and terrified.  When one of her friends turns up dead, they all know that the murderer is among them, but who can Callie trust to make it home alive?

What I liked....

The basic story elements are sound.  If I'd encountered this while in middle school during my R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike phase, I would have gobbled this up and wanted more.  It's a perfect suspenseful read for a middle school or high school reader.  The violence is present--so any reader or parent leery of strangulation and gun shots should steer clear.  There isn't any bad language, sex or drug/alcohol use--just your basic teens lost in the woods who may or may not be in the sights of a homicidal serial killer.

The intermittent journal entries from an unknown psych patient and the murderer are intriguing.  This really ups the mystery-thriller element and keeps readers guessing who it might be.  The musings are pretty sinister and creepy. Fans of this type of psychological thriller will want to continue reading for the big reveal.

What I didn't like...

I found all the characters and plot organization a bit too stereotypical.  For me, there wasn't a whole lot of depth for the characters.  I understand that Callie is written in such a way as to depict a typical, self conscious teenager who just wants to fit in; however, her insecurities are a bit much to take in.  I ended up disliking her in the first chapter and my perceptions of her did not improve. Everything is described in extremes with little room to breathe--Lissa is a hardcore manipulative friend (i.e. Regina from Mean Girls) and Penelope is fragile and lets herself be picked on. Callie is just too grateful to be included to actually voice her discomfort and Jeremy is just along for the ride.

While the basic story elements all work, I just found it all too predictable.  I had most of it worked out before the big reveal but I can see where teen readers would enjoy the book.  I recommend this for purchase in a YA fiction collection. It would be a good read-a-like- recommendation for those who enjoy similar creepy yet realistic suspense fiction.

Final rating: 3 out 5 stars

#YAlit #camping #murder #thriller #mystery #friendship #realisticfiction