Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Read Scary: The Cryptids: The Loch Ness Monster by Jean Flitcroft

I'm going to be honest; these books looked like they might be popular from the description, but they're not something I would have taken a chance on purchasing. However, I won a set from the publisher and they are checking out quite briskly. I decided I'd try reading one.


Vanessa is angry and hurt that her father wants to bring his girlfriend, Lee, along on their trip to Scotland. She feels like he and her brothers are just forgetting their mom and she can't stand Lee. But then she remembers the cryptid research her mom used to do and gets excited about investigating the Loch Ness monster. She's pleased when her dad says no more about bringing Lee, even when they arrive in Scotland. Then she finds out that they're staying at Lee's house, with her relatives. It's an armed truce until Vanessa rebelliously takes a boat out on the dangerous loch and capsizes. When she awakes, she finds that Nessie has saved her and they can communicate telepathically. They have much in common, Nessie having lost her own mother many years ago when she first became trapped in Loch Ness and she tells Vanessa a little about another girl who was lost in her caves and had also lost her mother. Vanessa is found and of course realizes that Lee was the other lost girl and the two start to bond as Vanessa begins to heal from her grief.

If that sounds rather confusing, it's a pretty accurate description of how I felt about the book. Most of it is talking about Vanessa's feelings and reactions, interspersed with trivia about the Loch Ness monster, and then suddenly she falls into the lake and you're not quite sure if she's hallucinating from eating the moss or if she really is having a telepathic conversation with the Loch Ness Monster and working through her grief over her mother. The writing is often stilted and even when it tries to be suspenseful or scientific I was never satisfied with it. I was also very confused by exactly how old the kids are supposed to be. Vanessa seems to be the oldest and a teenager, but then it sounds like her brothers are five years apart, and then it talks about her being sad that her mom won't be there for important parts of her life, like when she gets her period. There's driblets of suspense, but basically the book promises a lot more than it delivers.

This is Lerner's Darby Creek imprint, which is for struggling readers, i.e. a hi-lo book so some of the plot and writing can be attributed to that. However, your only binding choices are paperback or expensive library bound and for $22 a book I expect a lot more. I am very grateful to the publisher for giving me the free library bound copies and they are circulating quite well, numbers bolstered, I suspect, by the quite attractive covers, and it's good to have something to hand to the struggling readers, but I think they're not really going to satisfy the average reader looking for actual scary/suspenseful cryptid adventures.

Verdict: These would be great for kids wanting more "teen" books that are appropriate for younger readers and for struggling readers. Generally speaking, I would recommend these as additional purchases if you have the budget or are looking to expand a hi-lo collection.

ISBN: 9781467726023; Published2014 by Darby Creek/Lerner; I won copies of the trilogy in a publisher's contest; Donated to the library

1 comment:

Ami said...

I enjoyed the tidbits at the beginnings of the chapters that made Nessie sound entirely plausible, but then it got into all the telepathy weirdness, which blew the whole thing. I also couldn't figure out how old she was supposed to be. I read another in the series, about the chupacabra (hot topic here in southern NM), and it was just as confusing, unfortunately.