Obsession by JoAnne Keltner

Obsession by JoAnne Keltner
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Paranormal, Horror
Length: Short Story (143 pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Some obsessions know no boundary…not even death.

Abby had the perfect suburban life: shopping sprees at the mall, a pool in her backyard, a dream bedroom, a best friend… That is, until her family moved to the backwoods of Wisconsin.

Abby plans to prove this backwoods dump is no place for a thirteen-year-old. So when her parents hire a carpenter and his son, Greg, she hangs out with the older boy to make her parents worry. But Greg turns out to be a total creep, and although Abby tells him she doesn’t like him, he continues to make her life miserable, watching her, trying to get close to her, threatening her.

What’s creepier is the mysterious brown-haired girl that keeps appearing and disappearing without saying a word. When Abby finds the girl’s old diary in the outbuilding, she learns that they share a common enemy, Greg.

Will they share the same fate too?

What could be worse than moving to a half-finished house in the middle of nowhere?

Abby’s mood swings and pessimistic attitude make it difficult to sympathize with her plight. Yes, changing schools and moving to a new state can be really stressful but from the moment she sees their new home Abby is determined to hate everything about it. Her intelligent and intuitive understanding of human nature soften the edges of her character, though, and after a few chapters I found myself looking forward to her witty, insightful descriptions of her family and friends.

Greg is one of the creepiest teenagers I’ve ever met in a young adult novel. Phrases that would sound harmless coming from anyone else in this story take on a much darker meaning when he leans in and quietly whispers them to Abby when no one else is listening. I would have preferred to see a deeper exploration of his personality and life history as the chapter in his life that probably molded his socially inappropriate behavior as a young adult was mentioned so briefly some readers may miss that clue. Those that figure it out will be rewarded with a chilling glimpse of Greg’s most important influences, though, as no one is born with the desire to terrorize other people!

I had trouble figuring out an appropriate age recommendation for this book. There was some use of inappropriate language and while the protagonist is quite appealing to tweens there are a few scary scenes that I would hesitate to recommend for anyone younger than twelve.

Obsession is a great stepping stone for middle school students who love the paranormal or horror genres and are ready to transition to slightly more mature stories. It’s spooky and spine-tingling without resorting to the blood and guts found in many adult stories in this style of writing but the plot is complex enough to to easily hold the interests of this age group.

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