Friday, October 14, 2011

The Boogedyman by Ap Miller

For The First Ever Time, Out of Respect to the Young Adults Who Might Read This Review...NO SPOILERS HERE.

                                                          “What if the Boogeyman was real?”
Plagued by horrific boogeyman nightmares since childhood, Murray Thompson is
deathly afraid of the things that he thinks “go bump in the night”. The one thing that keeps him
grounded is his psychiatrist of many years, Dr. Rosen. With regular visits since he was 11 years
old, Murray feels progress should have been made already, but with his dreams becoming more
intense and “real”, he thinks something needs to be done. Going to see his family, Murray
believes that this is the break he needs to keep sane. Feeling at home, and safe around his
family, it works for a time. But when the nightmares start up again, he once more relies on Dr.
Rosen for help. Once back, Dr. Rosen takes Murray on a journey to root out his longtime phobia
and find out if there is cause for his fear or all in his mind.

I have seven kids.  That's right, count'em--one, two, three, four, five, six, seven.  Do you know what that means?  It means I've read just about every book written for people who haven't reached the age of majority.  There's a weird dynamic.  We start out reading books to them, like Andrew Lang's Fairy books and The Little Prince and Water Babies.  Those are pretty fun.  Then, they learn to read, so we're bored as heck watching and listening to them haltingly fight their ways through basic sentences.  When they can read, most of what's available is complete junk.  It isn't until Junior High or so that the kids reach an age where anyone is writing something they might actually enjoy.

And let's face it...ninety-nine percent of what's written for young adults is just crap.  There, I said it.  I'm serious, though.  Most YA fiction isn't about the kids.  It's written to a conglomerate vision of what we think the kids are.  That's why every kid has the exact same challenges, hopes, and fears.  That's why every kid falls in love the exact same way.  That's why there's always one "goody two-shoes" character and one "bad" character.  Really, the genre is so darn formulaic that you almost want to keep your kids illiterate until they can appreciate Hemingway  Steinbeck, and Poe.

I'm happy to report that Ap Miller's book, The Boogedyman, doesn't fall into the trap.  I liked it enough that it ended up a present for my twelve-year old to read.  The book doesn't treat kids like feeble-minded idiots ready for emotional and intellectual manipulation.  I really like that.  It not only excites, but it provokes thought.  Maybe I'm an old fashioned kind of parent, but I find it important that a book make my daughter think.

The characterization is excellent.  I quite like the interactions between Murray and Doctor Rosen.  I also like the psychological horror element of the book.  It's a far cry from most YA horror which, if anything, pays only lip service to the psyche side of horror.  I think it's remarkable that a young adult book focuses so much on older characters as well.  You never see that.

The pacing is great.  It starts slowly and builds with each chapter.  The beginning could have been a little quicker, but there's no harm done.  The twists are unexpected but they don't cheat the reader, and I was left wanting more, so I better see some more in the series, and I know my daughter will go on an Ap Miller hunt if she doesn't.

Pick the book up.  It's out in about five days, and it's a good one.

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