Shusterman (The Eye of Kid Midas, 1992, etc.) turns the pitfalls of adolescence into a landscape of nightmares, demonstrating that anyone can become a hero just by confronting old fears. Each of the six teenagers in this novel are misfits, suffering from deformities the author mines from the depths of teenage angst: Lourdes is so obese she develops her own gravitational field; Tory is scarred by rampant acne; Dillon is driven to wreck things; Michael lives in a state of frantic, insatiable sexual arousal, etc. More disturbing is the realization that unless they discover the reason for their freakish problems, they will eventually be destroyed by them. The dramatic finale where the six confront their personal demons is more disturbing and satisfying than the infamous prom scene from Stephen King's Carrie (1975). In fact, the evocation of epic scenes demands big-screen treatment. Shusterman's dead-on portrayal of teenage phobias and his engaging, sympathetic characters combine in a haunting but ultimately reassuring novel.