Best beginning ever! Not this blog entry but the beginning of The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill. I was hooked and could hook every junior high reader in my school after the first page:
“His mother said his face looked like a field of roses. What his mother did not know was that the scars had memories. They knew things. It’s coming, the scars said. It’s back, they whispered. No, Frankie thought, shaking his head. Not it. He. He’s coming. We knew he’d come back.”
Jack’s parents are divorcing and he must go to stay with his Aunt and Uncle while his older brother, mother and father get things sorted out. As soon as Jack’s mom leaves however, Jack finds he can’t make contact with her any longer, his Aunt and Uncle are weird and there seems to be vines creeping into his room. Did I mention the house seems to be breathing? Did I mention that the man in charge of this new town has made a pact that involves his son’s life and Jack’s? And of course there is Frankie who disappeared years ago only to be forgotten by everyone but his twin sister until he returned with the scars. Yep that will do it, sold to the kid who sails across the table first. The story continues with adventure twinning with fable through this mostly true tale. It may lose a few readers as fable takes the upper hand in a don’t piss off Mother Nature ending but I really liked the flow and along with Arlene would move this one on.
Meanwhile while I read Jack, Arlene started Marbury Lens. Each day Arlene would look paler and say this book is disturbing. Excellent I thought bring on the crazy. This book has another Jack and things aren’t going so well with him. He is kidnapped after a drunken party and barely escapes the sexual predator who has him. He chooses not to go to the police but winds up along with his best friend kidnapping the kidnapper who they accidently kill when he falls bound out of the truck. They choose not to call the police. This all happens before page 50. At this point, I figure mature reader but very exciting….then Jack goes to London to check out a boarding school. In a pub he meets Henry, someone who insists he knows Jack. He leaves Jack a pair of purple glasses and disappears. Once Jack tries on the glasses he is flipped into another world where he and two other boys run for their lives from flesh eating beetles and strange men with black and white eyes, purple boils on their bodies and body parts hung around their necks. There are plenty of entrails, death violence and gore. For the Darren Shan crowd they might really like this. The problems is Jack continues to flip through both worlds, promptly vomiting upon return (I swear it happens about 20 times) meets a ghost to start a third story and frankly by this time I’m a little bored. Jack what’s the point? By the end I still don’t know. We're going with the younger Jack.
Dia and Arlene