Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review: Frenzy by Robert Lettrick

Author: Robert Lettrick
Genre: Middle Grade, Horror, Survival
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Expected Publication: April 8, 2014

 

14-year-old Heath Lambert is spending his summer at Camp Harmony in the picturesque Cascade Mountain Valley. It's the perfect place to enjoy the soothing calm of nature as he weighs a heavy decision. The camp offers distractions: his friends, Cricket and Dunbar, always up for trouble; his reluctant crush on Emily, one half of the beautiful Em & Em Twins; and hulking bullies Thumper and Floaties, who are determined to make him their punching bag for the summer. But no one rattles Heath like his creepy cabin mate, Will Stringer. Brilliant, cold and calculating, Will views the world as one big chess game, and he's always three moves ahead of everyone else.

Heath soon learns there's a much bigger threat to contend with. Something's wrong with the animals in the surrounding forest. A darkness is spreading, driving them mad with rage. Wolves, bears, mountain lions-even the chipmunks are infected, spurred on in droves by one horrific goal: hunt and kill every human they find.

Heath and a ragtag band of campers are faced with a choice: follow Will's lead and possibly survive, or follow the camp staff and die. But how do you trust a leader when you suspect he's more dangerous than the animals you're running from?

Heath came to Camp Harmony to be surrounded by nature. He's about to get his wish.


Review

When a 14 year old boy named Heath heads to Camp Harmony for a relaxing summer he expects lazy days filled with friends, swimming in the lake and staying up late telling ghost stories. Unfortunately for Heath all that's about to change when the Animals suddenly start attacking everyone killing off most of the campers in mere minutes. Now Heath and his friends must race to the safety of a town miles away before they succumb to the deadly swarm. Only time is running out and the infection is spreading. 

Frenzy is a book that reminded me greatly of old school Goosebumps or late night episodes of the Crypt Keeper that I used to sneak out of bed and watch as a child. The story and it's premise were cheesy enough to not be taken as seriously as say Stephen King or Clive Barker in terms of it's Horror filled moments but on the other hand it's scary enough to appease those younger readers looking for something along the lines of The Walking Dead without actually being The Walking Dead. Basically, Frenzy is Horror at the PG-13 level yet knows not to go beyond it for fear of being censored.

What I really liked about Frenzy were the characters. There was a nice mix of personality and ages amongst the small group the story follows. I liked Heath because he wasn't this natural born leader who accepted the role from the start and kept everyone alive. Instead he was just a real kid reacting to the turn of events the best he knew how. He did a lot of growing up in the short time span given to him. I also really liked the Bully called Floaties. He had a great story Arc and I found his growth really reflected the insecurities he had at the beginning to his newly found sense of purpose at the end. Of course then we have little Molly and she was like the Jedi Master of the group. She was wise beyond her years and also due to her being the youngest kept the older boys in control of themselves since without them she surely would've perished along with everyone else.

Speaking of the body count, Wow this one was high. I think in total some 100+ kids died. Of course this is a Middle Grade novel after all so we didn't see them all. The ones we did though they died pretty brutally. Some were maimed, others drowned and yet some were just crushed in the Frenzy. I know it sounds weird but I appreciated the Author showing some of the carnage even if a good chunk of it happened out of view.

Lastly, I think the writing was great. It felt like smart horror instead of something ripped from some low budget B-Movie. The characters were written in an age appropriate mindset and their decisions reflected that. Yet, the science behind the infection was explained nicely without having to simplify terms for a younger audience. It did of course help that some of the characters were more scientifically minded than others so they could help translate what was going on and break it down in layman's terms. Also we didn't have characters just running off doing incredibly stupid things just to make the body count rise. As a Horror fan I can appreciate that. It can get tiring seeing people die these horrible yet easily avoidable deaths to the point you can pick up the redshirts of the story right away. I actually was able to connect with these characters and when one died I felt sadness instead of snark. 

Now even though I really enjoyed Frenzy the reason I didn't rate the story higher was because I hated the ending. It was the one downside to the entire story. 

I don't like feeling rushed while reading and that is the exact way I felt after finishing the book. Everything is rushed to the point where we miss crucial elements of the story such as the destruction of all these rabid animals, the immediate rescue of the campers, the media swarming around the camp and the search for survivors. Sure we see a bunch and learn stuff in the process but for me personally it wasn't satisfying. Also the whole militarized bio weapons plot really could've benefited from some kind of scene from their perspective like watching the news and ordering someone on the phone to salt the earth where the facility existed or even picking out another location to use it since the trial had been a success. Just give me something to say it isn't over! My only consolation is that things were open ended enough for a sequel to be written. I know I for one would love to see more that's for sure.

Final Thoughts
While I thoroughly enjoyed Frenzy I can't help think what might have been had it been written for a Young Adult audience instead of Middle Grade. Sure it was a solidly written story and the plot fantastic but you could tell where the edits were made and the gore held back to make the story suitable for Middle Grade readers. Now if the Author ever writes an uncensored edition for an older audience I'll be the first in line to read it, you can count on that. However, as it stands, Did I enjoy Frenzy? Yes. Would I recommend it? Absolutely. I'd have no problem buying this for my kids or even adding it to the shelves for myself. With that being said, I'll be rating Frenzy by Robert Lettrick ★★★★.

 *Copy reviewed provided by Netgalley.  All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in an which way  for providing them.

About the Author
Robert Lettrick has worked as a freelance artist for Marvel Comics, Marvel Films, and Harris Publications. He earned his BA in fine art at Atlantic Union College and was one of the first students enrolled in the Sequential Art MA program at Savannah College of Art and Design where he learned from many of comic's top writers and artists. Frenzy is his first middle grade novel.

Follow Robert: Twitter / Blog / Goodreads

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