The Dead Boys by Royce Buckingham
Reading Level: Middle Grade/Young Adult
Release Date: Available Now
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Source: Received from publicist for honest review
Summary: 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 . . .
My Review: The Dead Boys had a phantasmic yet spooky concept that would appeal to Middle Grade and Young Adult readers. Royce's conveyed events contributed a distinct fluidity that quickly turned into a fast-paced tale. Due to nuclear waste, Richland's hidden tree of doom pried energy from twelve year old boys. Every ten years, this monstrous, life-draining plant sought out a new victim. The moment Teddy arrived to the neighborhood, his unfortunate location stirred the tree's unnatural yearning. Teddy was a great protagonist, his intelligence and common sense helped me connect with him on a deeper level. I was so invested in his well being that I felt his emotions first hand.
All throughout the novel, I met a group of mysterious boys who befriend Teddy on the way. At first, I was a bit confused as to why these boys were so awkward. But, once the answers were revealed, it all started making sense. I know most of you are thinking, a tree that lives off of humans? It's definitely unheard of, however the imagination behind the idea was refreshing and gritty. The dark world created by Royce could easily be transformed into a Tim Burton film. By the end, the element of surprise was successful. The balancing acts between the tree and Teddy came together with a satisfying conclusion. Finally, Royce's intriguing creativity has sparked my interest in his works. I really hope one day he decides to write a Young Adult book with the same thrilling evidence.
Royce Scott Buckingham studied English at Whitman College and began writing short fantasy tales during law school at the University of Oregon. He wrote his debut novel, Demon Keeper, late at night while working as a prosecuting attorney by day. A life-sized dragon's skull hangs on his study wall beside his English degree in Bellingham, Washington, where he lives with his wife Cara and makes up bedtime stories for their boys Aspen and Aiden in a big, old, creaky house that some might find spooky.
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