The Pricker Boy by Reade Scott Whinnem
Publication Date/Version: September 2009/Hardcover
Publisher: Random House
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Teens Read Too
There's something lurking in the woods just beyond the Widow's Stone. Stucks Cumberland has seen it - a boy with skin that's gray as dead bark, covered head to toe with thorns.
It seems impossible. But then, nothing about this summer is as it should be. Stucks's best friend, Pete, has grown sullen and abusive. Ronnie wears long sleeves despite the heat, self-conscious about the scar that reminds everyone of a day they'd like to forget. Vivek's jokes seem increasingly desperate, and Emily is stirring feelings in Stucks that he doesn't know what to do with.
And through it all the Pricker Boy is out there, watching them from the edge of the woods. At least, Stucks thinks that's what's happening. But it's hard to concentrate with all the buzzing - the relentless buzzing that started in the trees and is now crawling around the surface of his brain...
Reade Scott Whinnem has created what can only be described as a modern-day Lord of the Flies. This absolutely terrifying story follows a group of friends throughout their summer as they try to figure out why they are being tormented by the Pricker Boy. Everything they believe will be questioned, and no one will be trusted.
The Pricker Boy was completely enthralling, yet horrifying. The storyline instantly piqued my interest, as I was in the mood for something scary. On a trip into the woods, the group of friends discovers that their offerings left for the Pricker Boy, offerings meant to keep him away, have been rejected. From this moment on, the friends begin their spiral into complete chaos and disorder. Never did I imagine that this book would be so scary. Books rarely have a frightening effect on me, but all while reading The Pricker Boy, I was constantly looking over my shoulder. I also turned on pretty much every single light in my house on for the next four days. The Pricker Boy's treatment and silent stalking of the friends is what made this book so terrifying, as well as his cruel actions.
Mr. Whinnem does a great job at setting scenes. I could always put myself into one of the kids' places and feel the horror that they were feeling. I could feel their mind-numbing terror. Normally, with this many characters, I would be unhappy that we didn't get to learn more about each of them. In this book, however, the scare factor was such a central point that I really couldn't focus on anything else. Similar to Lord of the Flies, the friends must face their fears and discover if there really is something out in the woods, or if it's all just in their heads.
Expect the unexpected in this book. At one point, when a major twist was revealed, I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped. And then my face screwed up, and all I was thinking was "What?!" Then I had to reread the paragraph a few times, to make sure I understood correctly. Anything that can get a reaction like that has to be good.
Overall: Completely terrifying, thought-inducing, and not for those who are easily scared. You'll be thinking about this one long after you finish reading it.
My Advice: For one, pick this up from your local library. Secondly, pick it up from your library in the middle of a summer day when you know you will be surrounded by people wherever you're reading. You definitely don't want to be alone and in the dark reading this one.
Cover: Very good cover. I like the color palette and the sketchy quality. The Pricker Boy's eyes really portray his creepiness.