Wednesday, August 24, 2011
YA Fiction: Following Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci
Date: September 5, 2011
Acquired: requested from publisher
Read: for review (I received my copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review; how I acquired it had no impact on my review.)
Reading time: two days
From GoodReads: When Torey Adams posts on his blog that a body has been found in Steepleton—four years after Christopher Creed disappeared—college reporter Mike Mavic sells his laptop and hops a plane to capture the story that will undoubtedly launch his journalistic career. What Mike finds in Steepleton is not what he expected. Instead he witnesses a town suffering under a cloud of bad frequency: mysterious accidents, a higher than usual cancer rate, and people who are just a little off normal. Everyone remembers the unsolved mystery of Christopher Creed, but to the teenage residents of Steepleton, Chris is nothing more than past history. Yet to his younger brother Justin, his obsession with finding Chris offers hope. This as yet unidentified body is the only thing that could possibly bring Chris’s former classmates Torey Adams, Bo Richardson, and Ali McDermott back to Steepleton at the same time—and provide Mike with the story of a lifetime: what really happened to Christopher Creed.
My review: I absolutely loved The Body of Christopher Creed and it's gone down as one of my all-time favorite books. But as it's a coming-of-age novel that comments on both society (to take a large-scale view) and high school bullying (to take a smaller-scale view), I was doubtful as to how good a sequel would be. Novels of The Body's caliber and scope don't usually have sequels. Following Christopher Creed turned out to be decent. If not for the ending, though, it wouldn't have come anywhere near wowing me as much as did the first book. It wasn't as hard-hitting nor as thrilling, a lot of it being dialogue, and I was never sure where Plum-Ucci was trying to head with the story. Was it intended as another coming-of-age social commentary, a novel about moving on, or some book promoting the powers of positive and quantum thinking? It only became clear at the conclusion.
Fortunately, the author keeps the plot interesting; even with there being little action (at least in the physical sense), things move fast. The main characters are likeable, each having their own faults that they're trying to overcome with varying rates of success. I wish Plum-Ucci would have delved more into the "bad frequency" aspect of Steepleton, why there's a high cancer rate, why there have been unexplained, total-fatality car wrecks, why everyone is "mean" - mysteries that readers expect to be explained by the end but are dropped. Again, what makes this a totally worthwhile read rather than just an ok-ish one is the end when some shocking realizations finally come out about what really happened to Christopher Creed. There's no way you'll ever see it coming until the last few pages.
Note: Readers will need to have read The Body of Christopher Creed before this book in order to understand the basic plot and characters. I also noticed that there is much, much less profanity in Following Christopher Creed than in the first book.