We were so young when it all happened. Just 13-years-old, making the most of the long, hot, lazy days of summer, thinking we had the world at our feet. That was us – me, Fat Bobby, Jim and Tara – the four members of the Outsiders’ Club.
The day we found a burnt-out car in the woods was the day everything changed. Cold, hard cash in the front seat, and a body in the trunk… it started out as a mystery we were desperate to solve.
Then, the Collector arrived. He knew we had found his secret. And suddenly, our summer of innocence turned into the stuff of nightmares.
Nothing would ever be the same again…
I read somewhere that this novel is perfect for fans of IT and TV Show Stranger Things. I haven’t read or watched either so I can’t comment on this but as a reference point for myself, I’d say that this novel is a mix of The Goonies meets Pulp Fiction. I can see both parts clearly before my eyes. I know it sounds like a strange combination but the novel did start out as a young adult novel, suited for younger readers even more perhaps, and then morphed in the end into a much darker read with quite a violent plotline. I was really lulled into a secure and safe feeling because yes there were plenty of threats and angst that the main character Joey feels but hey he’s a young kid and he apparantly pees his pants when he’s afraid,.. so it’s not so strange perhaps that I kind of went into complete shock with the turn of events in the end!
What I really did like though was the writing in this novel, the author has a very pleasant style, and I enjoyed the author’s (or Joey’s) way of telling the story. He’s sharing a story about that one summer in his life, a summer that starts with great friendships being made, of falling in love for the first time all sweet and innocent, but then a sequence of small decisions made him grow up a lot faster than he wanted to. The novel started off very strongly and I was certain I had a five star read in my hands but my excitement died down a little… maybe it was meant to be really suspenseful and threatening when this bunch of kids encountered the Collector but I didn’t really feel the adrenaline pumping, yet in the end the author certainly made up for that and my heart rate must have been the equivalent of running a marathon because I was really scared then for Joey and the rest.
Another thing that really made me want to keep on reading were actually the members of the Outsiders’ Club, a very diverse bunch of kids. There’s a black kid who knows how to shoot a gun, a fat kid who’s used to bullying, and a beautiful tomboy girl who isn’t scared of anything. I loved their personalities and seeing their friendship develop but the one that really stole my heart was Bandit, Joey’s dog. Bandit goes everywhere with him and I held my heart that he wouldn’t die from the moment I read about him and yes, it’s a sin I know but I skipped to the end to see if I could still see his name written there… I’d have been devasted to see him die. There were almost human qualities attributed to him, he understands Joey so well and he was such a lovely character!
I don’t want to give the impression that this was a bad read but I think I’d have rated it a lot higher if the author had chosen a more linear style of writing, going all the way dark or not. I don’t know if everybody will feel this way because I might be more difficult than some when it comes to crossing genres but this is my personal opinion. I also would have liked more background and more exlaining on what was actually the greatest mystery of all: the car and the body in the car. There’s a lot (if not all) left unexplained and I wasn’t entirely satisfied that this intriguing part of the story was left unexplored.
Long story short: the title should definitely have been Don’t Go Down To The Woods!
Next week on the blog tour I’m sharing a guestpost from the author with you! I also received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.