Student Bodies by Sean Cummings

Rating 8.5/10
Student Bodies is an excellent addition to a series that I really enjoy.

Student Bodies by Sean Cummings is the second book in the Poltergeeks series - a book about teenage witch Julie Richardson coming to terms with her new found powers, authority, and responsibilities. It is a good sequel that departs from the first book by taking a darker path, and I think it is definitely worth the read. Fair warning, the next paragraph might spoil a few aspects of the first book for you.

The story kicks off a few weeks after the events of Poltergeeks with Julie, Marcus, and Julie's mother starting to get used to Julie and Marcus' new relationship status. Julie's mum doesn't like it, not because she doesn't like Marcus, but because she is worried about the danger posed to Marcus just by being around Julie. But before they can sort out their various issues, a powerful new evil rolls into town with a very sinister goal, and Julie will be hard pressed just trying to keep everyone alive.

So. The big difference between Student Bodies and Poltergeeks is that Student Bodies is darker. A lot darker. The stakes are higher, the consequences have more impact, the themes explored are heavier, and our main characters get put through the meat grinder. That's not to say this book is without hope or fun, but it is a very noticeable difference to the first book. It's an interesting direction for the series to head - I like that it's getting more mature, but I miss the fun, vibrant, and exuberant nature that we were originally getting from the characters and the story.

In terms of plot, character, and setting, I think Cummings did a great job at expanding on just about everything he established in the first book. The characters we know are explored with a lot more depth, the new characters introduced are well rounded and easily fit into the book, the magic system has been expanded in very cool ways, and the main plot is an excellent self-contained story which efficiently and effectively advances the overarching plot. It is in every aspect a superior novel to the first book. And yet, it didn't really feel like a better book than the first book. Aside from the darker tone, I can't put my finger on why that is. Expectations might be a reason. The character arc of Marcus may be another (I understand why Marcus was taken in that direction, but it didn't really work for me). I'm not sure what it is, but I am confident that I will have a much better response to the third book when it comes out.

Student Bodies is an excellent addition to a series that I really enjoy. It deals with some heavier themes (like bullying and responsibility) in an effective yet respectful way, and is all round a more mature book. While this book may be targeted at the Young Adult audience, there is no reason why an adult couldn't pick this book up and really enjoy it.

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