Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hunter and Collector/Game Over Review

The Eulogy (From the Publisher):
Hunter and Collector
She called herself Mrs Hunter, although that was not her real name. No one on Earth could pronounce that. She had chosen the name Hunter because the word had a meaning all of its own . . .
When Mrs Hunter collects William she thinks she has found the perfect prey . . . but she may have met her match. An alien-invasion story about the kind of hunting and collecting that makes your skin crawl . . .

Game Over
It's the 1980s and Samuel is the new boy at school who seems to have it all: Mad magazines, video games, and even some food Johnny has never heard of called Doritos. In this Eerie story, all is not as it seems and Johnny soon finds out that having it all . . .  could cost him his life.

The Epitaph (In a Nutshell): A junior horror series that should be a great idea, but hasn't quite got its target audience down pat.

Dearly Departed,
We are gathered here today to discuss the Eerie series, by S. Carey (geddit?). Which actually means two books - Hunter and Collector, and Game Over. This is going to be a bit of a split review, because I really loved one of these titles and wasn't so keen on the other.

Let's start with the good - Hunter and Collector. This really nails the scary-but-not-too-scary market for those 7/8 year olds who want a bit of horror but might have nightmares if there's anything too scary. Everything about the writing was solid, the story was great and it felt like a seasoned writer was behind the pseudonym. I'd really like to know who the ghostwriter was on this one because I'd like to read more by them, and I think Penguin might have missed out on an opportunity by choosing not to name their authors. I'd highly recommend this book to any kids wanting to start out on the horror path - it won't take them long to read, but they'll be gripped the whole way.

Now, onto Game Over. I have to admit, I was a little confused by this one. As an avid gamer, I was really excited by the idea of it - video games AND horror? Win! Except the game platform in question turned out to be the Atari, which I reckon most kids these days would never have heard of, and aren't quite in the right age bracket to be loving the nostalgia factor. All of the references in this seemed jarring to me, things like Mad magazine (or even just magazines in general these days) and I couldn't help wondering if this was marketed towards the kids themselves or the parents who grew up in the 80s. And the latter is fine, but given that these are slim enough to be read-alones, I don't really see it having any great appeal to the modern child reader.

On top of that, Game Over felt distinctly older than Hunter and Collector - I'm not normally prudish about violence in books, but there's a scene at the start that I wouldn't feel comfortable giving to an eight year old reader. Plus the kids in it are drinking beer and ogling their friend's hot mum. It was a bit jarring going from Hunter and Collector to Game Over, and it made me think that the Eerie series hasn't quite nailed its target audience. A few other minor quibbles are the price point - $10 just feels like too much for such a slim read, and the covers - these look like they might be more at home in a classroom than on retail shelves. But that said, the black and white illustrations are eye-catching, and for all I know, the Eerie series might just be trying to appeal to the schools market.

I'm going to keep an eye on these and see how the rest of the series reads, but for now it's off to a rocky start.

For Readers: Hunter and Collector is a great book for readers 7+ who want their first taste of horror, whereas Game Over feels more like it's aimed at older readers who are struggling with longer books.

For Writers: Check these out for an example of a ghost-written series, or if you're looking to write horror for young readers.

Hunter and Collector

Game Over

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