Welcome to In the Middle Monday where I review middle level books geared towards grades fifth through eighth.
It has been a while since I have posted an In the Middle Monday. Many of the books I have been reading of late have been either strictly YA or books that are both middle level and YA too. Today's book while geared towards middle school is so good that I also think many YA readers will love it and it a perfect book for this time of year too.
When Teddy Mathews moves to Rickland, his main concern is making new friends. But something is not right about this quiet desert town: All the boy he meets seem to vanish before his eyes, while the imposing shadows of the giant tree outside his house appears to be hiding more than darkness.
With the branches of the massive sycamore scratching at his window, Teddy’s life becomes a waking nightmare that no one else believes. Can Teddy escape the tree’s terrifying grasp and solve the mystery of the missing boys before he becomes the next boy to disappear? (Publisher’s summary from book jacket)
The Dead Boys by Royce Buckingham is one of the most gripping and suspenseful plot driven stories that I have read recently. I literally lost track of time and couldn’t read fast enough to satisfy my curiosity about what was going to happen next. The action starts within the first eight pages and continues almost non-stop over the next 193.
I loved the concept of a tree being the antagonist in the story. I also loved that each chapter had a picture of the tree with two outstretched limbs like arm reaching for the figure of a boy running just like on the cover. With each consecutive chapters those outstretched limbs grow getting closer and closer to the running boy, but it is a very subtle thing and definitely added to the eerie atmosphere Buckingham masterfully created in the book.
Even though The Dead Boys is a fast plot driven read, Buckingham still managed to create a very believable character in Teddy. While he is not all that happy to move to Richland, he embraces the change by trying to find friends. He is curious, brave, and intelligent enough to outsmart the evil that is so desperately trying to end his life.
The Dead Boys is a fantastic middle grade novel that will appeal to even the most reluctant of readers. However, I also think it will appeal to YA readers as well. The story is one of a kind, and keeps you on the edge right up to the last page. It is a book I will be recommending for next years book battle list for sure!
Source: Received Copy from publisher for review