by Neal Shusterman
–review by Bronto Incognito
Age: Young Adult
Series: 1 of 3
Contains: sexual references, mild cursing, violence, death
As he watched Dwight shuffle off, Dillon made a pact with himself. No more fighting the hunger. He would feed it, he would live it, he would be the hunger…and if his destination was Hell, then he would learn to accept that. But he would not be alone. There would be others he’d be taking with him. Many, many others.
Book-a-likes: Midnighters trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, Everlost by Neal Shusterman, Rotters by Daniel Kraus, and The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester
If you know me, then by now you know my love of all things Neal Shusterman. This particular book is one of his earlier works (originally released in 1995) and it definitely has the feel of some of his other books from that time like Full Tilt or The Dark Side of Nowhere.
This story follows the lives of 6 different kids, all afflicted with different, odd ailments:
Dillon: afflicted with what he calls a “destruction-hunger”. He needs to demolish things, destroy them. Each new destruction calms the inner beast for a while, but soon enough it claws at him again, begging him to use his ability to map endless scenarios and find the best way to cause chaos. And people that touch him seem to lose all sense of purpose and direction. At least for a few moments.
Deanna: lives in terror of…everything. Being her is like living in a Final Destination scenario at all times. Being near her makes other people afraid as well. Even her therapists seem relieved when their time with her comes to an end.
Michael: all girls want him, want to kiss him, even his teachers. All guys seem to want to pound his face in, even the guidance counselor. Not the roughest of lives, but not the best either.
overweight massive. Like being her own planet. No matter what she eats, no matter what she does (including starving herself) she continues to gain weight. Not only that, those around her feel physically drawn towards her gravity, but not in a good way. They feel weighed down and smothered until she leaves the room.
Tory: has the worst skin you’ve ever seen. She’s tried every cream, every diet on the market to improve her looks, but nothing seems to work. And those that touch her are libel to come away with a weird disease or condition of their own.
Winston: for the last few years Winston has been pulling a Benjamin Button and aging backwards. He’s getting shorter, his voice is getting higher, and his adult teeth are starting to recede into his head. His touch can paralyze whatever part of you touched him. The longer the touch, the more permanent the paralysis.
Two by two, these six kids begin meeting up and realizing that not only are their afflictions connected somehow, but they are immune to each other’s effects. as Michael, Lourdes, Tory, and Winston team up to head west and find the others, Dillon is convinced that he and Deanna are meant for great things that involve only the two of them, and no one else.
Similar to Scott Westerfeld’s Midnighters you have a group of kids all gifted with different abilities (that each come with their own problems) and are all trying make sense and find purpose in their weird existence. And just like Joey in Rotters, Dillon keeps making choices that thrust him further and further down his slippery slope into darkness.
I’ve always loved that Neal Shusterman is not afraid to make his characters have uncomfortable teenage problems–like raging acne. He’s not afraid to allow his characters to make some bad decisions–like Dillon and Deanna. It’s interesting to see how each of these kids chooses to deal with their particular problems and in Dillon you can definitely see the early inklings of a Mary Hightower (Everlost) type character, right from the get go. Definitely going to continue with this series because I need to see what happens now that __________ has been fixed and now that ______ is gone and see if Dillon will ______.
Is that vague enough for you without spoiling anything?
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