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Secrets of the Sleeper

From the True Nature Series series , Vol. 1

Appealing if familiar fantasy elements are well-handled in this debut.

Awards & Accolades

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After her mother’s death, a girl who can see in the dark tries to restart a normal high school life but keeps encountering the mysterious in Bennett’s YA fantasy.

Ten months ago, Tru Parker watched as a hit-and-run driver struck and killed her mother. She walked around in a virtual coma through the rest of her school year, and now that she’s a junior, she hopes to salvage her zombie reputation. Her best friend will help, as will her improved looks: she’s acquired a tan and extra inches in height, plus—silver lining—she lost her appetite after her mother’s death. Intriguing boyfriend opportunities present themselves: Isaac Efoti, a handsome and towering Tongan-Taiwanese, and Zander Hughes, a good-looking new student who seems strangely familiar. As Tru deals with high school issues—teachers, friends and enemies, homecoming, romance—she also shrugs off her disturbing dreams and odd experiences. These include a warm humming sensation when she touches Zander; being able to heal injuries, even a grieving student’s depression, with her touch; strange comments from others, like how Dante (another new student) calls her an “‘Idimmu’” and says he’ll keep her secret. Isaac and Phoebe, his sister, also seem to have secrets, as do Zander and his brother Peter. When Tru is kidnapped by a half-insane minion of the powerful Collector, she gains new courage and learns many startling truths about supernatural beings and her relationship to them, vowing to discover more. Though Bennett, in her debut novel, travels familiar territory here—“ordinary” but actually gorgeous teenager with special powers; werewolves and vampires; a special destiny—she lifts her story with strong writing and a good voice. Tru and her friends sound like high schoolers; they use inventive slang (“Son of a butcher,” says her best friend Ruthie, a vegetarian) and experience a good balance of concerns both frivolous and serious. Readers may feel a little overwhelmed, though, by the ending revelations, which come at a fast clip and involve much strange vocabulary like Usemi, Akharu, and Sethians. The story leaves many loose ends, no doubt to be picked up in planned sequels.

Appealing if familiar fantasy elements are well-handled in this debut.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2014


Page Count: 181

Publisher: What If Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2017


Aspiring filmmaker/first-novelist Chbosky adds an upbeat ending to a tale of teenaged angst—the right combination of realism and uplift to allow it on high school reading lists, though some might object to the sexuality, drinking, and dope-smoking. More sophisticated readers might object to the rip-off of Salinger, though Chbosky pays homage by having his protagonist read Catcher in the Rye. Like Holden, Charlie oozes sincerity, rails against celebrity phoniness, and feels an extraliterary bond with his favorite writers (Harper Lee, Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Ayn Rand, etc.). But Charlie’s no rich kid: the third child in a middle-class family, he attends public school in western Pennsylvania, has an older brother who plays football at Penn State, and an older sister who worries about boys a lot. An epistolary novel addressed to an anonymous “friend,” Charlie’s letters cover his first year in high school, a time haunted by the recent suicide of his best friend. Always quick to shed tears, Charlie also feels guilty about the death of his Aunt Helen, a troubled woman who lived with Charlie’s family at the time of her fatal car wreck. Though he begins as a friendless observer, Charlie is soon pals with seniors Patrick and Sam (for Samantha), stepsiblings who include Charlie in their circle, where he smokes pot for the first time, drops acid, and falls madly in love with the inaccessible Sam. His first relationship ends miserably because Charlie remains compulsively honest, though he proves a loyal friend (to Patrick when he’s gay-bashed) and brother (when his sister needs an abortion). Depressed when all his friends prepare for college, Charlie has a catatonic breakdown, which resolves itself neatly and reveals a long-repressed truth about Aunt Helen. A plain-written narrative suggesting that passivity, and thinking too much, lead to confusion and anxiety. Perhaps the folks at (co-publisher) MTV see the synergy here with Daria or any number of videos by the sensitive singer-songwriters they feature.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02734-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: MTV Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999


The format of this taut and moving drama forcefully regulates the pacing; breathless, edge-of-the-seat courtroom scenes...

In a riveting novel from Myers (At Her Majesty’s Request, 1999, etc.), a teenager who dreams of being a filmmaker writes the story of his trial for felony murder in the form of a movie script, with journal entries after each day’s action.

Steve is accused of being an accomplice in the robbery and murder of a drug store owner. As he goes through his trial, returning each night to a prison where most nights he can hear other inmates being beaten and raped, he reviews the events leading to this point in his life. Although Steve is eventually acquitted, Myers leaves it up to readers to decide for themselves on his protagonist’s guilt or innocence.

The format of this taut and moving drama forcefully regulates the pacing; breathless, edge-of-the-seat courtroom scenes written entirely in dialogue alternate with thoughtful, introspective journal entries that offer a sense of Steve’s terror and confusion, and that deftly demonstrate Myers’s point: the road from innocence to trouble is comprised of small, almost invisible steps, each involving an experience in which a “positive moral decision” was not made. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-028077-8

Page Count: 280

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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