Thursday, August 06, 2009

Wait Until Twilight -- Sang Pak

Okay, so you look at the cover of Wait Until Twilight, and you see the photo of the really pale kid. Then you read the blurb: "What I need to do needs to be done before it gets too dark. . . ." No one would blame you if you thought you were getting some kind of Stephenie Meyer clone. The publisher probably thinks that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it's very misleading. What you're going to get is a Southern Gothic coming-of-age novel. And no vampires.

Samuel Polk is a sophomore in high school. For his video project, he and a friend go to a house his friend's told him about. In the house there's a woman with three monstrous kids that she claims were immaculately conceived. [SPOILER ALERT: She knows better, as we find out later. END OF SPOILER ALERT] The kids are so monstrous that the sight of them causes Sam to hurl. He doesn't use the video.

Sam has plenty of troubles. His mother has been dead only a year. His father seems obsessed with something he's building in the yard. School's not easy on a rebellious kid, so there are girl troubles, fights, and detentions. And worst of all, those three kids have a brother who's pretty much a total nutjob. He's homicidal, and he tries to force Sam to admit his own murderous tendencies.

Sam's a good kid, though, driven to succeed at his studies and to do the right thing. Most of the time. The question is whether he can get through things and come out on the other side a more mature person. You'll have to find that out for yourself. I'm not telling.

I think I can promise that for the most part you won't know where the book is headed. There are a couple of surprises at the ending, which achieves an unexpected but deserved poignance.

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