*Book received in exchange for honest review*
Screams You Hear
by James Morris
For sixteen-year-old Ruthie Stroud, life on tiny Hemlock Island in the Pacific Northwest is an endless sea of boring green, in a place where everybody knows everybody’s business and nothing ever happens. Then her world is ripped apart when her parents divorce and a new man enters her mother’s life. But worse is yet to come.
When she drifts ashore on the mainland, hideously burned, Ruthie has a harrowing tale to tell. It begins with the murder of a family. It ends with her being the sole survivor of a cataclysm that sweeps her little island. As a detective attempts to unravel Ruthie’s story of murder and madness, only one horrifying conclusion can be drawn: whatever was isolated on remote Hemlock Island may now have come to the mainland. Is Ruthie safe? Is anyone? – Goodreads
Screams You Hear is something of a deceptive experience. Its starts off perfectly harmless, not the premise per se but rather that it reminded me of a few ideas from this and that from movies and books but as the story progresses, it manages to make its small group of teens very personable while intermittently putting in the now as we see the main character, Ruthie talks about a bit of how she feels now after all the events she has been through to the officer listening to her. Perhaps the only downfall was not being able to create the uniqueness in the beginning to keep me quite as captured as I was once the story really got rolling however, it might also be deliberate to let our guards down so the shocking turnouts as the story progressed would be more unpredictable.
James Morris creates some incredible characters here, much like watching a horror film with the normal group of teens from the nerds to the jocks. There will be characters that you want to cheer for and others that you don’t as much. However, what makes for some great thrills is the setting on a quarantined island and the detailed descriptions of each scenario which truly can build the tense and creeping atmosphere while building up the picture of the horrifying situations with our own imagination. There is a fine line between being overly descriptive and the right amount of description situation for whichever genre and story that is being told. The author here definitely has found a nice balance.
Being that this one is a thriller, its hard to dive very deeply into the story itself in fear of ruining the twists that this book has to offer. However, in terms of the premise itself, it had quite a few nice traits to it. For one, it had something of a survival element which gave the young characters room to grow. It allowed us to look deeper into the survivor’s outlook after the quarantine. It had some zombie movie elements, which gave me flashbacks of stories like Train to Busan, where they saw the town go to hell and had to use their own observations to slowly piece together what these new-formed enemies were capable of and how they could strategize to escape. As the characters looked over the shoulders, we were also scared for their lives especially since we knew that our main character is the only one who pretty much makes it out and wonders how the others had their demise.
Thrillers are hard to put together. However, James Morris does a great job here. Overall, Screams You Hear has a lot of great elements. The beginning starts off a little familiar and it does seem like the book has some scattered parts that do remind me of other horror films I’ve seen, however, his skillful writing particularly in the descriptions and pacing does help build atmosphere and the characters while giving us just enough to picture each dangerous scene one after another. Nothing is more powerful than our imagination and he does a great job and making sure that our minds are racing with every decision and plot twist that Screams You Hear throws at us. Consider me thrilled! Highly recommend!
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