young adult • contemporary • mystery • horror
There was no gate identifying the beginning of the cemetery. It was just part of the town, as death was just a part of life.
When Stephen is forced to move back to the nowhere town where his father grew up, he’s already sure he’s not going to like it. Spencer, Michigan, is like a town straight out of a Hitchcock movie, with old-fashioned people who see things only in black-and-white. But things start looking up when Stephen meets the mysterious twins Cara and Devon. They’re total punks–hardly the kind of people Stephen’s dad wants him hanging out with–but they’re a breath of fresh air in this backward town. The only problem is, Cara and Devon don’t always get along, and as Stephen forms a friendship with the charismatic Devon and something more with the troubled Cara, he starts to feel like he’s getting caught in the middle of a conflict he doesn’t fully understand. And as Devon’s group of friends, who hang out in a cemetery they call The Playground, get up to increasingly reckless activities to pass the summer days, Stephen worries he may be in over his head.
Stephen’s fears prove well-founded when he learns of Spencer’s dark past. It seems the poor factory town has a history of “bad times,” and many of the town’s oldest residents attribute the bad times to creatures right out of an urban legend. The legend goes that the only way the town will prosper again is if someone makes a sacrifice to these nightmarish creatures. And while Stephen isn’t one to believe in old stories, it seems Devon and his gang might put a lot of faith in them. Maybe even enough to kill for them.
Now, Stephen has to decide what he believes, where his allegiances lie, and who will really be his friend in the end.
Mystery was one of the genres that introduced me into reading. I grew up with Agatha Christie’s book in my hand and stories of the master of horror genre itself, Stephen King. And one thing I know is that writing under this genre needs a very hard work into it. Everyone, whether a reader or non reader have heard the amazing stories written by Stephen King. And who’s out there could surpass the master himself? Even I have been put under his spell. And that was probably the main reason I couldn’t enjoy the book very much.
I feel like this book had the potential to be so much more than what it was. The idea of the book was very promising though with this mystery town and friends who most likely were into this crazy cult belief. But that’s it, the rest was just how the main character would unsolved the mystery. Maybe because the book is quite short that it felt like everything was too rushed. I was hoping more of a mysterious death scene that Stephen would encounter that would build all the curiosity inside him, rather than the past that was being told by newspapers and urban legends.
I also didn’t quite feel much of a connection in all of the characters. Stephen’s character was really getting my nerve. He couldn’t make his own decision and simply just put up with whatever Devon wanted him to do. I know, Stephen was having a pretty bad time with his mom illness and suddenly must move to this small unpopular town. But still there were quite some time I want to smack him in the face for being such a coward. The romance with Cara also just felt too unnecessary. Well, maybe it could have been better if it wasn’t too.. rushed?
Fortunately, I did finish the book since I can’t help myself for being curious about what would happen at the end of the story.