Teri Polen’s Sarah is a pleasingly creepy young adult horror. Fans of Supernatural will be delighted with this book. If you’ve ever watched any of those typical high-school rom-coms/dramas where guys make a bet to trick a girl, and boo’d at the screen, you’ll enjoy Sarah. It’s a twisted take on a classic plot that will make horror fans cheer. This is the version they were waiting on.
Cain and his best friend Finn are good kids that both have their heads screwed on straight. Cain took on a lot of responsibility after his dad’s death, and that definitely made him grow up a bit. Finn, too, has had his share of problems. They could be the male version of Mary-Sues if Polen hadn’t written in some believable flaws. But they’re not perfect, and that makes all the difference. Quick tempers, wicked tongues, and Finn’s desire to needle every one around him means that at any given time, someone’s probably thinking about punching him. Or Cain. Or both. The rest of the characters are appropriately likable or detestable. Except for Lindsay. She’s a bit of a non-entity.
I liked that the author made a few salient points in Sarah about the mindset towards sexual assault. There was more than one conversation or interaction when I just sat back in my chair and sighed after reading it. It was utterly realistic. Teenagers are, as a rule of thumb, very selfish individuals, and it seems like jocks in particular excel in this. They think they can get away with anything, and/or that the world revolves around them. It’s behavior that’s either never corrected, or not corrected until it’s too late.
Hasn’t recent events proven that if a boy can score several touchdowns per game, who cares how many girls he assaults, right? We all know they were asking for it anyways. Or if adult males make enough money, they can do anything they want to girls, because they believe they are more important than the girls are. And these types of beliefs are constantly getting reinforced in today’s society.
It’s disturbing and disgusting and Teri Polen shows the reader a path to douche-hood that hundreds of young men start down every day.
I did, however, have one huge problem with Sarah. Sarah, herself. Well, her dialogue to be specific. For the most part, I liked her. I liked seeing the change. I puzzled over what, exactly, was going on with her. Yes, I thought she was vengeance-crazed ghost thing, but she was a fun vengeance-crazed ghost thing. Until she opened her mouth. Pretty much every time she started talking, it was like someone just hit the ‘off’ button on my interest in the story.
I understand that her background means that we could expect a certain amount of dialogue that seemed unusual for her age range. I was fully willing to accept that. But Sarah presented with lines that went between disturbingly formal and super-villain monolog. Luckily, her talkative scenes appear in bursts, so for most of the story it’s really not an issue.
Sarah is a book that takes a bit to get going, but overall it’s an easy, enjoyable creepy read. I was definitely hooked fairly early on, and read the book in two bursts over two days. It comes in at just under 200 pages, so it’s not something that demands a lot of your time. If you like horror, but don’t like it too gory or scary, this will probably be a great choice. Teri Polen did a pretty solid job.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley for review consideration