Friday, September 5, 2014

The Book of Bad Things

Hooray to Dan Poblocki for writing a novel with a title that would hook me instantly: The Book of Bad Things. There are so many ways that a book with this title could go, and actually, it was different from any of my guesses.

Cassidy Bean lives in Brooklyn but spends her summers with a host family out in the country. This summer is different, though, and it all seems to be stemming from the death of a hermit who stayed in her house, hoarding items. Anyone who took the hermit's belongings was visited by her ghost. If they didn't return what they took, terrible things would happen. Cassidy and her friends are the only ones who can make things right, if Cassidy is willing to face all her fears in The Book of Bad Things.

As always, I have to applaud Poblocki for writing genuinely scary books for middle grade/middle school readers. He doesn't dumb anything down for them. There are really ghosts and zombies in this book, mixed with some other common fears like intruders and panic attacks. In spite of the fantastic nature of his books, there are real world problems, as well. For example, Cassidy's mother is pretty terrible, disinterested in her daughter and involved with sketchy men. This isn't resolved at all, it's just something that Cassidy has to deal with as she looks forward to her summers with the Tremonts.

If I could make one change, I would have made the book a bit shorter. 256 pages isn't very long, but it can be daunting for some of the developing readers who would love to read something with a cover this enticing. For these kids, there is a huge difference between 200 and 256 pages. It's a minor quibble with a terrific and frightening novel.

Thanks for NetGalley for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.

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