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WISH YOU WERE DEAD Review

Since the day I read Give a Boy a Gun, I’ve been a Todd Strasser fan. His writing is authentic and scary, sort of like that feeling you get when you are all alone and you think someone is watching you. You feel your hair standing up on your arms and little beads of sweat break out over your upper lip. “Is someone there? Hello?” His new novel, WISH YOU WERE DEAD keeps the chills coming.

From the first chapter, Strasser’s YA thriller sets us up for more scares than a Halloween haunted house. We cautiously turn the page ahead to the next chapter, readying ourselves for another shock. He makes sure the evil keep popping out at us, giving us fright after fright.

WISH YOU WERE DEAD features a blend of four narrations: an anonymous teen’s blog listing the kids she hates, a first person narrative by a nice girl named Madison from a wealthy community, a bit of omniscient narration, and strange ramblings from a possible psychopathic kidnapper. Strasser is able to pull off having this many different narrators through his talent as a writer and the use of font styles to indicate a change in narration.

The main character, Madison, is losing her close friends, one by one, and is receiving strange emails and notes warning her of each impending disaster. To compound matters, she is attracted to the new guy in school, but is unsure whether he is involved in the disappearances or not. When Madison decides to take matters into her own hands, we cringe, knowing no good can come out of a choice like that. The pace is fast and the end is shocking. As I sat curled up in my chair at 1:00 am, wanting to finish it, I was wishing I had started it earlier in the day…it was so dark outside and only a thin screen separated me from the noise on the porch…

Strasser’s WISH YOU WERE DEAD is published by Egmont USA and is due out late September 2008. Some language and violence, but nothing over the top for most teen readers. The themes of bullying, tolerance, and friendship are all ones to which students can relate. A perfect read for chill seekers…make plans to spend the wee hours of the night with this one.

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