Review Detail

(Updated: September 14, 2018)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0

Video Game Tie-In

Nicky's family moves around a lot, and he gets tired of having to adjust to new towns, new schools, and new friends. This time, his mother has a good job at the university in Raven Brooks, so he's hoping they can stay. He meets Aaron Peterson, who lives across the street, and the two boys have lots of adventures, breaking into the old Golden Apple candy factory and appropriating electronics for their inventions. There's something a bit strange about the town, and about Aaron's father, and after some research, Nicky finds out some of the back story. The Golden Apple company created an apple themed amusement park, and Mr. Peterson was the engineer who designed the rides. Unfortunately, a seven year old girl was killed after being thrown from a ride that didn't have appropriate safety equipment installed on it, and even though there was no law suit against Mr. Peterson, it ruined his career and made him slightly disturbed. After a tragedy affects the Petersons, Nicky starts to think that maybe there is an even bigger secret hiding in the house, and he attempts to find out what it is before even more bad things happen.

Good Points
There is apparently a horror video game called Hello, Neighbor, the object of which is to sneak into the basement of neighbors' houses to find hidden secrets. This book would probably make a lot more sense if I were familiar with the game, but it could stand on its own merits as well.

The fact that Nicky's own house was not haunted makes this refreshing, and I really enjoyed the idea of the Golden Apple theme park, since I have a weakness for anything of the sort (especially if it involves Storybook Forest kinds of parks, like Hahn's Closed for the Season! There's also the Wild West theme park in Bowling's Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus. Maybe this will be a new trend!). Nothing is creepier than something that is supposed to be happy and filled with joy that has become derelict and depressing!

Nicky's parents are present and supportive, but they give him a lot of room to roam in his new town, which is good to see. Raven Brooks is a small, quirky town, and Nicky's delving into its history was more interesting to me than the creepy aspect that will appeal to payers of the game.

Scholastic has a wide range of books with popular culture tie-ins, and readers who have to be pulled away from electronics will find some comfort reading in series like Hello Neighbors, Cube Kid's Minecraft, and Baptiste's official Minecraft novels.
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