Published by Simon and Schuster on August 18th 2015
Genres: Horror, Mystery & Thriller, Young Adult
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Romance, friendship, and dark, bone-chilling fear fill the pages of this summertime thriller in the spirit of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Twelve years ago Stella and Jeanie vanished while picking strawberries. Stella returned minutes later, with no memory of what happened. Jeanie was never seen or heard from again.
Now Stella is seventeen, and she’s over it. She’s the lucky one who survived, and sure, the case is still cloaked in mystery—and it’s her small town’s ugly legacy—but Stella is focused on the coming summer. She’s got a great best friend, a hookup with an irresistibly crooked smile, and two months of beach days stretching out before her.
Then along comes a corpse, a little girl who washes up in an ancient cemetery after a mudslide, and who has red hair just like Jeanie did. Suddenly memories of that haunting day begin to return, and when Stella discovers that other red-headed girls have gone missing as well, she begins to suspect that something sinister is at work.
And before the summer ends, Stella will learn the hard way that if you hunt for monsters, you will find them.
“If you hunt for monsters, you’ll find them.”
3 1/2 teacups. Wow. I hadn’t dared to hope that this book would actually satisfy my craving for a creepy book just in time for Halloween, but The Creeping really is a strange and unsettling story.
I’ve heard this premise so many times. Two children disappear in a small town, only one returns. The “survivor” cannot remember what happened to them. The other child is never found. In this case, the two children are Jeanie and our narrator – Stella. And when Stella is found, all she does is repeat the same line over and over: “If you hunt for monsters, you’ll find them.”
Years later and Stella is a popular teenager with friends and crushes, but her life is tainted by the blurry memory of Jeanie. Then, on the anniversary of Jeanie’s disappearance, a body of a young girl is found. Can it be Jeanie? Or is it just one more in a long line of something much older than their town?
There are so many things to praise.
For one, the creepy atmosphere. I would say the pacing is relatively slow for a typical YA novel, but that actually just heightened the tension for me. There’s this ongoing sense of both the supernatural and human evil, and they are equally terrifying. It’s hard to know which is worse: that an ancient evil lurks in the woods, or that the evil is in the hearts of people you have known all your life.
Secondly, the single biggest criticism I have seen for this book is about the dysfunctional friendship between Stella and her friend Zoey, though I personally loved it. I thought it was an interesting and honest portrait of the web of affections and jealousies between teenage girls.
Neither are particularly likable characters, but that makes the story ever more interesting. I also like that the author directly addresses slut-shaming and generally portrays the message that being a virgin, promiscuous or something in between is totally okay.
My criticism (hence the 3 1/2 rating) is the completely unnecessary romance. I’m not saying this because I hate romance, I’m saying it because it honestly feels like publishers list romance as a requirement for any YA book, whether the story needs one or not.
And this story definitely didn’t. I wanted to skim read the romantic parts between Stella and Sam so I could get back to the good stuff.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this for those looking for a creepy read that constantly straddles the line between mystery and horror. It’s the kind of book that keeps you wondering right up until the very end: monsters or men?