This book was sent to me by the kind offices of Bloomsbury India in exchange of an honest review
This book would be classified as young, young adult fiction falling in the science-fiction horror genre. Louis Sachar is also the author of the much acclaimed ‘Holes’. I have not read the book but I absolutely loved the movie. The story had a simplicity to it that I found vaguely endearing. Plus, it starred the still cute Shia LeBeouf as the main lead which made the whole enterprise that much more adorable.
Tamara is a fifth grade student in a nice school, while Marshall, her walking-home buddy, is in the seventh grade there. She is a good student and the rule-following kind of kid but really sweet. Marshall was a normal enough kid until the advent of a ‘difficult’ new boy in the class who manages to alienate Marshall from all his friends within a few weeks. As a result, when we meet Marshall he is sulky and in a generally uncommunicative mood. In alternate chapters we also read about a senate hearing investigating some scientists about a new lifeform that they have created as an alternative to fossil fuels which is being touted as environment friendly and a giant step for mankind in saving the planet.
One afternoon, Tamara and Marshall take the shortcut through the forest at the back of the school. En-route they bump into a classmate of Marshall’s, Chad Wilson, who is not very pleased with him. They get into a fight and Tamara falls in some mud as does Chad. By the time she reaches home her hand is covered in rashes. What follows is truly frightening in a very scientific horror movie way. The rash spreads and it gets worse. Way worse. And poor Chad who really fell in the mud is in a pitiable state.
I actually liked the book even though it was for a much younger audience than I am. It is a quick read and the characters are interesting and entirely genuine. The rash did send a proper chill up my spine. The book designers have been very smart and thoroughly creepy. They have put these tiny dots on the top right hand corner of every page that keep increasing in numbers progressively with the story. When I figured out what they were supposed to be I can tell you they made me mighty squeamish and made me wash my hands every time I picked up that book. Now, that is a story that has accomplished what it set out to do.