Scare Scape (Scare Scape #1)Hot
It's rare to see a book where the siblings are portrayed as having a close but occasionally troublesome relationship, so it was great to see Morton, James and Melissa interact. The situation with their mother's death could use some more explanation, but the way the children are dealing with it is realistic. Morton is sad that James doesn't share his interests anymore, and Melissa is a bit irritated that James seems to be getting along well with HER new friend, Wendy. The father is busy, but present, cooking horrible dinners and making sure the children are okay. Supportive family is missing in so many middle grade books, so I appreciated that.
It is also hard to find books with monsters, and I've had a lot of students asking for them. The illustrated "monster deck" illustrating and describing the attributes of the various creatures will be a big hit with readers who wish that they could get their hands on John King's Scare Scape comics!
The book has a fair amount of action with great details like James the Snarf belching yellow smog and King Crab spiders chasing students. I liked the mystery of what happened to John King, but I wish that this portion of the story would have been tightened up a little bit. There is a lot going on, and readers who like monsters are generally a bit more interested in the antics of zombie twins rather than the motivation of creepy authors.
For readers who liked Lorey's Monster Academy or R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books, Scare Scape is a natural choice, and I can even see recommending this to readers who like family tales like The Penderwicks but want something creepy and more exciting.
Creepy creatures and a spooky old house with secrets provide the vehicle for a heartwarming story of three siblings who learn to stop fighting and start working together as a team. The initial tension and fighting between the siblings is entirely realistic, especially given the recent loss of their mother and their move into a new town. Each character is well developed and given room to grow throughout the story. Each also has something important to contribute to the resolution of the novel's conflict. Readers will empathize with the characters, especially with the narrator Morton, and will cheer them on as they face the terror that has taken over their town.
The comic-book-come-to-life was also very well done. The drawings and information about each monster will remind readers of trading cards, and the scenes involving the various creatures will keep readers flying through the pages. My middle school boy absolutely adored this book because it hit all of his buttons--comic book monsters, action, and secrets. Along the way, he also got to experience realistic and heartwarming sibling relationships and a lesson about putting aside differences to work together as a team.
What Left Me Wanting More:
The pacing at the beginning feels a bit slow. The chapters are long, and it takes a little while to get to the action. Reluctant readers may need a push to keep going, but they will be well rewarded when they do.
Creepy, action-packed, and heartwarming, SCARE SCAPE is sure to be a favorite on many a book shelf.