The Dead Boys
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Release Date: September 2010
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Author Site: http://www.demonkeeper.com/
My Rating: 4/5
Source: Received for review from Planned Television Arts
In the desert town of Richland, Washington, there stands a giant sycamore tree. Horribly mutated by nuclear waste, it feeds on the life energy of boys that it snags with its living roots. And when Teddy Matthews moves to town, the tree trains its sights on its next victim.
From the start, Teddy knows something is very wrong with Richland- every kid he meets disappears before his eyes. A trip to the cemetery confirms that these boys are actually dead and trying to lure him to the tree. But that knowledge is no help when Teddy is swept into the tree's world, a dark version of Richland from which there is no escape . . .
I haven't read many middle-grade novels and I know I've never read any novels featuring killer trees... Honestly, I stray away from the younger side of the YA genre. I probably shouldn't say no to a particular group of books anymore because most of the time I enjoy the ones I normally think I wouldn't. But I digress... I quickly gobbled up The Dead Boys. It was tough to put the book down to be quite honest. I just had to know what happened to Teddy and all those...well, dead boys!
As the synopsis reads, shortly after moving to Richland, Washington Teddy starts to meet all these boys around town. And they do indeed disappear before his eyes. Of course, it freaks the poor kid out but he's determined to find out what's going on. As Teddy starts to piece things together he finds out that the gigantic, scary tree next door has something to do with all of the boys' disappearances. Targeted as the tree's next victim, Teddy is sucked into the dim and distorted world of the tree and has to fight for his life and those of the missing boys.
Teddy is portrayed as a wimpy character who can be called shy, timid, a loner even... but I suppose trying to figure out a creepy mystery and trying to stay alive at the same time will change one's character a bit. Teddy definitely grew on me, not that I didn't like him in the beginning mind you. But I definitely didn't want the tree to kill him and he's actually a pretty brave and loyal kid. You'll see why because you're going to want to read this one. I liked the unique element of the tree! I liked the creepiness of the story, I mean it didn't scare me where I had to stop reading it but I definitely got some chills! And the story overall sucked me in! I love books that do that, as I'm sure most readers do.
This is also my first experience with the author's writing. I enjoyed the simplicity and flow of the writing. It wasn't bogged down with heavy details or over-the-top descriptions. The author was able to successfully pull me into Teddy's world and I could easily "see" a lot of the scenes in my head. It was a lot of fun reading The Dead Boys and I'm looking forward to more of Royce's work.