CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 15. . . .December 15, 2017
Kill Screen. (Haunted; 2).
Joel A. Sutherland.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2017.
154 pp., trade pbk. & html, $7.99 (pbk).
ISBN 978-1-4431-5712-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4431-5713-1 (html).
Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.
Review by Deborah Mervold.
I looked at the abandoned cabin in the woods and knew that if I entered, I would die.
But I had to try.
An ancient evil dwelled inside – a spirit from a time before time, a harvester of lost souls, a ghost of the Netherlands.
She was hiding somewhere in the cabin and refused to leave. That’s what had brought me there. I’d already disposed of every single evil spirit she had summoned, and now I was there to kill her. And if I couldn’t kill her, I would banish her back to the Netherrealm. And if I couldn’t do that, I would die trying.
And so begins Joel A. Sutherland’s Kill Screen, from the “Haunted” series. Evie is addicted to the video game, Kill Screen, which she plays all the time. She has played other games before getting to this complex game where she has been killed by the Wisp over a hundred times. Harold is her best friend and loves to watch her play. She knows there is a way to beat the Wisp, but she needs to figure it out.
Evie’s parents had been killed in a car accident two years before, and she lives with her grandma. Evie had been playing soccer when she received the news about her parents and gave up the team. She blames herself because she had a dream the night before telling her that her parents shouldn’t drive. After the accident, Evie started seeing ghosts. After Evie’s was killed the 109th time by The Wisp in Kill Screen, a ghost appeared to her and said that she was there to help her.
In the search for the solution to the game, Evie and Harold discover Leda who is the ghost Evie saw and also the creator of the game. Leda tells Evie that she must give up the game because, if she does defeat The Wisp, The Wisp will kill all of humanity. Evie really will release The Wisp from the Netherworld. To make the game more authentic, Leda has added a summoning spell which Evie will read when she wins the game.
Evie reasons out what she must do when Harold researches the legends. She discovers how she can defeat The Wisp which she does. She reads the spell and knows she must set right what she has started. The Wisp calls up many horrible ghosts to defeat Evie, Harold and Leda, and there is a battle at a historical park. Evie and Harold are helped by some surprising characters. The Wisp holds an Orb with a bright light which Evie realizes that she must capture. The ending is full of suspense as there is an excellent bridge to the next book.
The characters are realistic as they encounter implausible situations. The link from the video game to real life is an interesting read. There is a good build up of suspense with foreshadowing, such as on page 62 where Evie thinks, “and whatever horrors awaited us there – were only fifteen minutes away.” The story is told in first person with Evie as the main character. She is working through the deaths of her parents with the distraction of video games. She is very motivated to win and, although Leda warns her not to defeat the Wisp, Evie can’t give up the game. There are 28 chapters with a small round picture of The Wisp holding the Orb at the beginning of each chapter. Each chapter ends at a point which would motivate continued reading.
Ghost story fans, supernatural readers, mystery and adventure readers would enjoy Kill Screen. The language and plot would be suitable for the intended readers. The novel would be a good read-aloud choice and suitable for school, public and personal libraries.
Deborah Mervold is an educator and teacher-librarian from Shellbrook, SK. She is presently employed by Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology working in the areas of faculty training and program development.
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University of Manitoba
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