Fans of The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence to rave reviews, will be happy to welcome their favorite heroine back to the big screen. House at the End of the Street (PG-13), a jump-out-of-your-seat thriller directed by Mark Tonderai, will be released by Relativity Media on September 21.
Lawrence takes on the role of Elissa, a high schooler who moves with her recently divorced mother Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) to a small but affluent rural town in order to make a fresh beginning. Though their new home is everything they could have wished for, they soon learn more about the awful secrets that shroud the house next door, where a daughter had brutally murdered her parents several years earlier and then disappeared. Now, the ill-fated abode is occupied by the killer’s brother, Ryan (Max Thieriot), an enigmatic loner—and the only remaining member of the family.
When they meet, Elissa finds herself attracted to the charismatic boy, and despite her mother’s warning to stay away from him, the two begin a relationship that continues to grow more intimate. As strange and disturbing events begin to occur, they are caught up in web of lies and mysteries, rooted in both past and present, and Elissa soon finds herself in terrifying danger. Kids can visit the movie’s Facebook page to view photos and get in on the buzz, or stop by Yahoo!Movies for a selection of trailers and clips.
Based on the David Loucka’s screenplay, Lily Blake’s novelization of the House at the End of the Street (2012; Gr 7 Up) is available from Little, Brown’s Poppy imprint. Film fans will be drawn in by the movie-poster cover, showing Lawrence in character, her face filled with fear as she peeks around an open doorway. A black backdrop and sepia tones set the proper mood as do the chapter lead-ins, old-fashioned patterned wallpaper adorned with unsettling slash marks. A prologue recounts the tragic events of the past, while suspenseful chapters relate Elissa’s tale.
Flashbacks and current plot points reveal details about her character—her disappointing relationship with her father and disconnect with her mother, feelings of alienation from many of her peers (including the hard-partying “in” crowd), her instant connection to Ryan—making their growing romance believable. Filled with creepy twists and turns, the story unfolds with unexpected revelations, violent encounters, and moments of adrenaline-surging danger. The book’s rapid-fire dialogue, straightforward writing, and ever-building tension add up to a page-turning read for movie viewers.
Some Scintillating New Thrillers for Teens
Cleverly plotted, compellingly unnerving, and impossible to put down, these recently published novels make great choices for film fans and young adults who love to curl up with a mystery/thriller. Suggest these gripping tales as read-alikes, or consider making them part of a Halloween display or booktalk.
Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers (Little, Brown, 2012; Gr 9 Up) introduces Jasper “Jazz” Dent, a 17-year-old who has good looks, charisma, and a natural way with people. He also happens to be the son of the world’s most notorious serial killer, and though Billy has been behind bars for years (thankfully), Jazz is still haunted by his father’s ruthless voice and a childhood spent learning gruesome lessons at the knee of “Dear Old Dad.”
When a body is found in his hometown of Lobo’s Nod, Jazz is determined to assist with the investigation—after all, who would have better insight into the mind of a serial killer? Though the local sheriff turns down his help, Jazz launches his own (sometimes unlawful) inquiries, but as the body count increases, he begins to struggle with his own inner demons—shadowy memories from his past, his inability to connect with others, horrible urges that are boiling to the surface. Is he truly looking to atone for his father’s actions and prove that he is not his father’s heir? Or is he fated to step into Billy’s shoes?
Complete with harrowing details and fueled by a pulse-pumping plot, the story’s real power lies in its strong characterizations, and Jazz’s compelling first-person narrative, deftly seasoned with believable self-doubt, disturbing insights, and dark humor. One look at the cover—a shadowy figure surrounded by splatters of blood—and teens will be hooked…and they won’t stop flipping pages until they reach the cliff-hanger climax (a sequel will be published in 2013). Visit the LB-Teens site for a reader-grabbing book trailer.
Seventeen-year-old Gabie had switched shifts with Kayla on The Night She Disappeared (Holt, 2012; Gr 8 Up), heading out from Pete’s Pizza to make a delivery and never returning. Even more chilling, Gabie discovers that the man who placed the order—giving a bogus address in a deserted area where Kayla’s car was later found abandoned—had asked for the girl who drives the Mini Cooper (Gabie’s set of wheels), meaning that she was the intended victim.
As time passes and the kidnapper eludes capture, the police begin to focus on searching for a body. It’s up to Gabie and her co-worker and classmate Drew to prove that Kayla is still alive, and find her before it’s too late. The story is told from various points of view, amping up the anxiety and keeping readers embroiled in the unfolding events. Chapter heads tick off the days, and an array of documents (interview transcripts, evidence reports, a missing girl poster) add detail to the plot and provide atmosphere. A blossoming romance offers a pleasant distraction, but the focus remains solidly on the quick-reading, crime-solving action.
Is it possible to steal a life? Jenny Valentine’s Double (Hyperion, 2012; Gr 9 Up) is told in an edgy first-person narration by a 16-year-old runaway who has long called the streets of London his home. When Chap is mistaken for a boy who went missing two years ago, he decides to seize the opportunity. Taking on the identity of Cassiel Roadhouse (to whom he bears an uncanny resemblance), Chap travels “home” with his newfound sister, believing that he has suddenly landed everything he has ever dreamed of—a loving family, security, a real name. However, things do not go as anticipated: not only does he live in constant fear of being found out, but he also discovers that the Roadhouses are harboring a few secrets of their own.
As he delves into the mystery surrounding Cassiel’s disappearance, Chap realizes that he is in grave danger, a danger that reaches beyond his ruse being revealed and threatens his very life. Details about the teen’s early childhood are cleverly interwoven into the action, adding intricacies to the novel, spinning out the suspense, and building toward the book’s final breathtaking bombshell.
In The Butterfly Clues (Egmont USA, 2012; Gr 9 Up), Kate Ellison crawls right into the mind of her protagonist, Penelope “Lo” Martin, a 17-year-old whose lifelong struggle with obsessive-compulsive behavior has been exacerbated by the recent death of her brother.
Lo just can’t seem to stop her thigh-tapping, word-repeating, counting-off behavior, or her kleptomaniac impulses (it gives her comfort to arrange and rearrange a room full of stolen items). While wandering a crime-ridden Cleveland neighborhood, she pauses at an old house to snatch an angel statue; suddenly, she is caught up in a stream of gunfire, but manages to flee back to the safety of her suburban home. When she discovers that a 19-year-old girl named Sapphire, a dancer in a strip club, was murdered, Lo feels compelled to get to the truth.
Returning to the scene of the crime, she becomes embroiled in the seedy, perilous world of Neverland, where she befriends—and soon finds herself falling for—Flynt, a runaway teen who agrees to help her but whom she suspects is keeping secrets of his own. Tension and danger build, along with Lo’s compulsions, as she tracks down clues and begins to piece together the truth. The writing is both lyrical and street-savvy, and the action is smartly paced. Teens who like a lot of meat to their thrillers will enjoy the spellbinding insider’s look at Lo’s off-kilter psyche as much as the meandering twists and turns of the mystery.
BLAKE, Lily. House at the End of the Street. Little, Brown/Poppy. 2012. pap. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-316-23063-6; ebook $8.99. ISBN 978-0-316-23064-3.
LYGA, Barry. I Hunt Killers. Little, Brown. 2012. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-316-12584-0; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-0-316-20174-2.
HENRY, April. The Night She Disappeared. Holt/ Christy Ottaviano Bks. 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8050-9262-2; ebook. $9.99. ISBN 9781429942454.
VALENTINE, Jenny. Double. Disney/Hyperion. 2012. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-142314714-5.
ELLISON, Kate. The Butterfly Clues. Egmont USA. 2012. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-1-60684-263-8; ebook $17.99. ISBN 978-1-60684-268-3.
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