FICTION

The Fear Zone

Scholastic. Sept. 2019. 304p. Tr $7.99. ISBN 9781338577174.
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Gr 4-8–When five young teens are summoned to the cemetery at midnight on Halloween, they think it’s a prank, but curiosity gets the best of them. Once they arrive, there’s no prank to be found, but there is an eerie gravestone bearing the grisly omen “your nightmares begin,” which seems to appear by magic. As the days go by, all five are haunted by their worst nightmares, which are controlled by an evil clown who is stalking the friends and luring them to his lair. The friends must work together and face their fears in order to get out alive, or risk becoming prey to the terrifying clown. The story is told from varying points of view, which keeps the plot moving swiftly as each of the teens experiences their worst nightmares come to life. Each of the characters is given an “issue” (body image, struggles with sexuality, difficult home life, death of a parent), but none of these topics are fully fleshed out, nor do they contribute to the main plot; they could have easily been omitted. The dynamics among the five characters also feel underdeveloped.
VERDICT Those who love plot-driven, edge-of-your-seat horror will enjoy the frequent scares. Recommended for collections with a solid group of horror fans.

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