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Extremities: Stories of Death, Murder, and Revenge by David Lubar
Cover Artist: Interior Illustration by Jim Kay
Review by April Disney
Tor Teen Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765334602
Date: 23 July 2013 List Price $15.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Children's author David Lubar takes a swing at young adult fiction with this collection of stories, Extremities: Stories of Death, Murder, and Revenge.

For a breezy afternoon read, teen and adult alike will find that these stories are indeed as advertised. With just the right amount of creepy, Lubar creates starkly cast worlds with simple prose and straightforward storytelling. It's a breath of fresh air compared to what can be found on the YA shelves these days. The horror is often ironic, sometimes subtle, and definitely not soupy, sappy, and full of romantic vampires chasing bimbo teen girls in a mockery of the genre. Often, real teen issues are addressed -- occasionally in hilarious fashion.

The strongest stories in this assortment are:

Split Decision - Easily the creepiest of the set, "Split Decision" made me giggle with delight at the (admittedly heavily foreshadowed) ending. Writing this type of tale from a first person perspective was a stroke of genius; the irony hits you, as the protagonist, like a ton of bricks. Ahem, pun not intended.

Apparent Motives - Contrasting this short story with its aforementioned predecessor is a lot of fun. Disturbing but comical irony followed by a parable of sorts drenched in sadness is a combination designed to pack quite a punch, and speaks highly of the author and/or editor's ability to piece together a collection as well as the author's skill with words.

Patterns of Fear - Taking another first person approach in this one, Lubar again hints at a dark ending for a not-unlikeable protagonist. This one was amusing as well, because you relate to the guy trying to be rational in a haunted house... self-deprecating, at least until the terror hits.

A Cart Full of Junk - There were some problems with this one in terms of apparent character stupidity. (Ever feel like throwing that idiot you're reading about against the wall and yelling at him to open his eyes? Yeah, that's this guy.) It's entertaining though because it represents the victim's purest revenge and is a fantastic daydream of giving back to the bully.

Evil Twin - Injecting a touch of science fiction into the collection, this tale brings to mind shadows of early works from big name horror authors. The truth is only half-seen, implied; the reader is left to their own conclusion; this story could be a real starting place for the author to move into deeper waters.

While Lubar is primarily known as an author suited to a younger crowd, this collection is at least a satisfactory jump into a more mature milieu for him. It isn't overly dark - not every protagonist bites the dust nor does every antagonist get away. Neither is it wildflowers and poppies, either. Growing up is often a bewildering time for teenagers, as is the concept that people don't necessarily get what they deserve; these stories outline that concept nicely. Tragic accidents, close calls, and life lessons round out the set.

Recommended for teens and adults into horror.

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