HORROR! “Bliss”

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Horror: The Top Ten for Teens

With teachers bringing classes in for horror and mystery book talks near Halloween, I thought it was a good time to look at our collection of teen horror and update it. One of the problems I have anymore is in defining horror. So many books with vampires, werewolves and zombies are just romances with differently-abled characters. One of the book review magazines I read –Booklist—decided to rescue librarians by picking their favorite ten teen horror novels. None of the novels are heartwarming nor are they romances.

They’re horror.

I had most of the titles at Colony, but none at Chaffey, so I went shopping. (So Tigers, check before Halloween. I think they’ll be here.) I read my first on the list. And, yes, I thought it had the creepy factor. It’s also by the author whose books are most often challenged right now—and since it’s Banned Books Week and since our frosh classes are having a look at this author—I decided to start with Lauren Myracle.

Bliss by Lauren Myracle

Publisher’s blurb on the novel: Having grown up in a California commune, Bliss sees her aloof grandmother’s Atlanta world as a foreign country, but she is determined to be nice as a freshman at an elite high school, which makes her the perfect target for . . . a girl obsessed with the occult.

Reason Booklist picked it: Creepiest sleepover scene of all time.

What other pros say: Publishers’ Weekly “Charles Manson Family murders, racism, ghosts, blood sacrifices and prom queens–and, remarkably, supports this outré mix with clever timing and well-placed red herrings.”

VOYA: “kept me reading all through the night. It’s geared toward a mature audience of readers who are strong in what they believe.”

What I have to say: hippie-dippy craziness of the Summer of Love (1969) turns sinister, plus the main character has an ESP connection with spirits, so what’s better than that? Myracle does make it better with deeper probing of the period—the KKK; interracial dating; the Charles Mansion Family murders (The Tate-LaBianca murders) set against the ultra-sweet popular TV show of that time, The Andy Griffith Show, and the wonderful town of Mayberry.

No silly, make-believe endings here. This one’s serious enough for your teachers to love—a good choice for outside reading. In general, it’s not blood and guts violence, but it is for mature readers because it is creepy, creepy, creepy.

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About Victoria Waddle

I'm a high school librarian, formerly an English teacher. I love to read and my mission is to connect people with the right books. To that end, I read widely--from the hi-lo for reluctant high school readers to the literary adult novel for the bibliophile.
This entry was posted in "Banned Book", Fiction, Horror/Mystery/Suspense, Over 375 pages, Supernatural, Young Adult Literature. Bookmark the permalink.

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