Sunday, May 29, 2016

Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory - ADVISABLE

Gregory, Daryl Harrison Squared 318 pages. Tom Doherty Associates, 2015. $25.99.  Language: PG (1 swear, 0 “f’); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG.

Harrison Harrison (or “H2”) has just moved with his mother from warm, beautiful San Diego to the grim, remote, xenophobic New England coast town of Dunnsmouth, Massachusetts.  Years ago, Harrison nearly died in a boating accident, and his father did not survive the disaster.  Harrison’s mother is a marine scientist working on a research project, and just 2 days after their arrival, her boat capsizes, and her body is not recovered.  Harrison is unwilling to give up on the search for his mother, so a distant aunt swoops in to take care of him. Meanwhile, he and a group of dour students with secrets of their own clandestinely put the town leaders under surveillance to find out what is really going on. 

This book is highly readable.  Great setting, remarkable characters, very creepy tone, and suspenseful. I think it is “clean” enough for most middle schools – the PG ratings come from one swear delivered aloud in a classroom, and the mature content is implied about adults in the book, not the teens.  Unbeknownst to me, this is a prequel to a novella titled We are All Completely Fine, so this would be a good additional read for fans of that book.  The ending is too simplistic for all the build-up, but the author is clearly leaving the door open for more to be done with these characters in the future. Don’t let the ugly cover design put you off!

MS/HS – ADVISABLE.  Reviewer:  JA, High School Librarian

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