Genre: YA Horror
Ethan Cage is a teenage boy who’s only legacy is the fact that is fall is a serial killer known as ‘The Mutilator’. The book starts with his father’s arrest when he was 6; when everything changed. Then through a series of diary entries and personal 1st person experiences we get a look at Ethan from 6 to a junior in high school. The main plot is based around Ethan coming to terms with his father’s actions, and his own sense of discovering who he, Ethan, is. The secondary plot is on Ethan’s father who escapes prison and is hell-bent on starting up his insane murdering ways once again.
From a character perspective Ethan, his girlfriend Whitney and his family are three dimensional, and full of dark and light issues of their own. There is plenty of internal struggle for all the main characters. Ethan’s friends and other secondary characters appeared less detailed and more fitting to a pattern that left those in authority the ‘bad’ guys and his closest friends willing to do anything for him.
The secondary plot, with the father, was the most engaging part for me. I found the thriller/horror aspect of Ethan attempting to somehow stop his father endearing as well and almost wish this angle had been played more. I will say these parts of the book are far more graphic then other YA’s may be, but from the reading I got the feeling this book was meant to dig into darker territory and touch on the less rosy aspects of growing up. My biggest problem with the story telling is that too many questions were left unanswered, I felt this area could have used a bit more.
On the major mechanics: Pacing read a bit uneven, descriptions varied and I found Ethan a bit more poetic then I’d expect most 17 year old boys– yet Ethan is not the typical teenager. I enjoyed several of the characters, including Ethan’s little sister Mary who’s more an innocent victim. The plots, both had some potential, but during the reading Ethan’s own internal conflicts tended to muddle up the story telling for me.
Overall, I think this story will appeal to those who enjoy coming of age tales and stories about self-identity. If you like horror there are horror elements, but the horror portion is not the main part of the story.