HELL PHONE by William Sleator


Age Range: 13 - 15
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Sleator devotes his considerable talents to a horror story this time. High-school student Nick and his mother live in near-poverty. Because his mother closely monitors use of their home phone, Nick buys a cell phone to talk more frequently to his girlfriend. But this phone brings weird and threatening calls and proves to have a direct connection to Hell. Nick’s life changes—and not for the better. The pitiful and self-pitying Nick, with his limited experience and lack of worldly knowledge, makes a great pawn for the predatory adults he meets when using the cell phone. The many unpleasant characters and the need for a big-time suspension of disbelief (a direct connection to where?) are countered by a dark, involving and fast-moving plot that surprises, shocks and—eventually—terrifies. Sleator cleverly uses Nick’s weaknesses to paint him into a corner, then pulls off a horrifying (but satisfactory) ending. Gross and yucky episodes, a suspense-filled plot and touches of macabre humor will appeal to both horror fans and reluctant readers. (Fiction. 13-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-8109-5479-6
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Abrams
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2006


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