Extremities: Stories of Death, Murder, and Revenge

By David Lubar
Published on July 23rd 2013
Published by Tor Teen
Source: Netgalley
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.

This book was okay.  Not great, not terrible.  It was a very quick read -- I finished it in maybe a couple of brief commutes around town and one lounging-on-couch-eating-pizza session.  All of the stories are incredibly short, with some clocking in at just a few pages long, so it is easy to just devour the book in one sitting.

As an adult, I found the stories in here to be lacking.  They were all sort of predictable and although they were gruesome at times, I didn't find them to be too shocking.  I didn't find them to be scary, although a few of them had plot twists that made me go "hm".  However, this is probably most likely a case of me just not being the target audience, as I think I would have loved this book as a tween/teenager.  I was a big fan of Goosebumps and Fear Street and anything Christopher Pike.  Sure, I read the occasional Babysitters Club or Sweet Valley High novel, but I never connected with them in the same way that I loved horror stories. Extremities would have been right up my alley -- creepy and violent enough to my teenage mind to keep me up at night, most definitely.

With the stories being so short, you don't often get a chance to know any of the characters before something horrible befalls someone.  The stories function more as vignettes, for the most part: set up the scene, drop in some foreshadowing, and bam, horrible deaths.  Some of my favorites of the stories included "Apparent Motives", about a teenage boy and what he says is the impending divorce of his parents; "Blood Magic", about a robbery gone wrong; "A Cart Full of Junk", about some thugs and an apparently homeless man; and "The Ex Box", about a girl starting a new relationship.

While the book is marketed as Lubar's first book for teen audiences -- his other writings have been for the middle grade and younger set -- the tone of the writing still felt very young to me.  Maybe due to the violence and a few stories that involve slightly sexual situations (nothing too bad that I can recall, just some making out and talking about how hot a girl is), this would be better for teens, but I think it could still be appropriate for younger-but-mature readers, maybe those just past middle grade reading.

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