Residue by Steve Diamond is a YA horror/supernatural thriller that follows the story of a town rocked by the mysterious disappearance of a scientist and terrorized by a monster on the loose. There are a lot of stereotypical YA horror scenes in this book like prom night, high school drama and raging teenager hormones. Fortunately the author is smart enough to address all of these with a fresh and humorous perspective that shows not only a sense of self-awareness but also manages to inject an intense amount of frights. I found that it re-invented the overused genre and it has reignited my passion for the YA horror genre.
The story follows Jack Bishop and Alex Courtney; both have been bred with supernatural powers. Alex is aware of hers, Jack’s are currently dormant but when his father gets kidnapped by a mysterious creature he finds mysterious tracks that only he can see and so he must delve into his family’s past to uncover his abilities and find out the truth about the Helix corporation his father and grandfather work for. With the help of an unknown “Insider” who contacts Jack and Alex on the phone, the trio attempt to track down the monster set free by the corporation and find Jack’s father using their newly discovered abilities.
There are a handful of characters in Residue and I responded to the way that each character was a stereotype. The nerd at school (Jack), the beautiful cheerleader (Alex), the older, wiser mentor (the Insider) but by far my favourite character was Jack’s aunt and supervising relative who intrigued me as a reader. She wasn’t the doting, over-bearing aunt (that would have been an easy play in a situation like this) and while she didn’t go all Dursley on Jack she had me curious about her past and why their relationship seemed to be so strained.
Using settings like high school and prom night, they were used effectively, the characters were self-aware of the situation and Diamond uses it to his advantage to deliver the most terrifying prom night scene I have read. Characters often make quips about where they are and situations they are in and it felt very Joss Whedon/Buffy The Vampire Slayer (and I mean that in the most positive of ways!).
My only complaint with this book was the short amount of time I got to spend with these characters. I found myself completely invested in their story and abilities and wanting more. It was the first book in a while that I have not been able to put down. It has an original premise, engaging characters and a sense that this is just the first instalment of an on-going series that I can only hope is delivered as perfectly as this one was.
Review by Alaisdair Dewar
Steven Diamond founded and runs the review site, Elitist Book Reviews, which was nominated for the Hugo Award in 2013, 2014 & 2015. He writes for Baen, Privateer Press, and numerous small publications. Residue, a YA Horro [...]
8.5/10 from 1 reviews
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