Monday, January 1, 2018

Wintry YA Mysteries: Cooney & Windsor

Reviews by Christy H.

Freeze Tag by Caroline B. Cooney
            Meghan Moore loves her neighbors, the Trevor family. She’s best friends with their daughter Tuesday and as a crush on their oldest son West. She enjoys nothing more than bursting into their welcoming home just to say hi or playing yard games with Tuesday, West, and their younger brother Brown. But there is another kid who wants to join in on the fun. Her name is Lannie, and no one really likes her. So to make them like her she suggests a game of freeze tag. And one by one she freezes everyone – literally. They can see and hear but they cannot move. She spares West only to have him promise that he will always like her best. When he does, she unfreezes everyone, and they don’t talk about this strange occurrence for years, pretending it never happened.
But now they’re in high school, and West and Meghan are dating. They’re wild about each other, and it upsets Lannie to see West breaking his promise. So once again she threatens to freeze those close to West, specifically Meghan, to get what she wants. That is essentially the novel. West breaks off from Meghan to spend all his time with Lannie just to appease her. Lannie threatens to freeze someone if she doesn’t get her way. It’s a short book but this scenario plays out over and over and over. Then it abruptly ends. There are a couple of times where Meghan considers the loneliness Lannie must feel as she has always been neglected – by classmates or by parents – and I felt as though the rest of the narrative would be her befriending Lannie or trying to be kind to her. Although it does hint at that in the end the novel never fully develops it. While I liked reading it just fine, and I enjoyed the writing, it felt quickly and haphazardly thrown together.

The Christmas Killer by Patricia Windsor
            The town of Bethboro, Connecticut is preparing for the holiday season but every citizen is on edge. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving fourteen year old Nancy went missing. After her body turns up, another young girl goes missing. Later on human remains are found in a junk yard but they’re from years ago. Has a serial killer started preying on this town? Or has he been around for years already? Either way, everyone’s spooked. Including Rose’s mom who just wants to protect her fifteen year old daughter. Rose brushes her concerns off as much as she can. But then she starts having dreams about Nancy – someone she only met once in passing. Dreams that show her where Nancy’s body can be found or where the older remains are buried. Rose doesn’t know how to process these dreams. After she goes to the police several times, pretty soon they’re pressuring her for more information, and grieving family members are berating her in public. It’s almost too much for her to handle.
            I enjoyed this much more than I expected to. The killer was fairly easy to guess but I appreciated Windsor laying the groundwork so the reveal didn’t feel unearned. Rose, as a character, is a little prickly which felt tedious at times however, I loved her final showdown with the killer where her bold attitude really shines.

            While I favored The Christmas Killer, I enjoyed both of these young adult books. Both were light, fun mysteries perfect for chilly Christmas reading.

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