Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) Master of the macabre David Lubar turns his attention to dark and twisted tales for teens with Extremities: Stories of Death, Murder, and Revenge
A group of high school girls takes revenge on their sadistic gym teacher in the most fitting way possible. Two stowaways find themselves on a ship for the dead. An ancient predator stalks the wrong victim. Here are thirteen tales of death, murder, and revenge from the fertile and febrile imagination of master storyteller David Lubar—his first story collection for the teen audience.
Thoughts: Stories of murder, death, and revenge. That’s the subtitle of Lubar’s Extremities, and this book is exactly what it says on the tin. At a reading level poised somewhere between mid-grade and YA, Extremities is filled with the macabre, the creepy, the violent and bloody parts of death, much resembling souped-up versions of campfire tales, the kind that people will tell on dark nights in the attempt to creep each other out.
In some cases, these stories work wonderfully for that. In other cases, it seemed very much like Lubar was trying to outdo himself and instead it just fell flat, with an emphasis on blood and gore as the creep factor instead of more psychologically disturbing elements.
While a majority in this incredibly short collection of short stories contain supernatural elements, my favourites, and the ones that gave me the most pause, were the ones that were about people being people, regular teenagers pushed over the edge by their circumstances. Girls who take brutal revenge on their abusive gym teacher. A kid planning the murder of an abusive father, only to find their mother getting caught in the crossfire. Those were the stories that really stayed with me, that were oddly the most extreme of all the extremities, because they showed that you don’t need monsters or ghosts or supernaturally-strong serial killer to create terror. You just need people, plain and simple, in the right (or wrong) situation.
As for the supernatural stories, some were very good, and the rest were merely okay. A creature feeding on a person’s strongest emotion until they die. A team spending the night in a haunted house, a classic ghost story with an interesting twist (it isn’t the house that’s haunted). Those are the two stories that stuck well in my mind, not so much for their creativity but their interesting execution.
While the stories contained within were rather hit-or-miss, I think many pre-teens and young teens could really get a kick out of this book. It’s what kids who’ve just outgrown Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark can move on to (admittedly, might be showing my age there with those examples…) when they want to get that same shivery thrill of reading about the dark, the macabre, the things that can and will always go bump in the night. It wasn’t a great book. It wasn’t a book to linger over and ponder deeply. It was a quick fun ride, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else.
(Received for review from the publisher via NetGalley.)