The Fear

Delacorte. Mar. 2022. 368p. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9780593125014.
Gr 9 Up–Someone has challenged the students of a sleepy fishing town to share the way they fear dying online, and that’s all people are talking about. Soon, it becomes clear that the people who have posted are being killed off, in just the way they described. Murder styles vary from drowning in icy water to starving to being dragged behind a vehicle. Izzy, the white protagonist, is playing the role of junior detective, sure she can form a bond with whomever of her classmates is behind this. (The possibility that the perpetrator is not a high school peer is really never given serious consideration.) A handful of characters are described as having Black skin, but this trait seems to be the extent of their racial identity. The narrative flips back and forth between Izzy and The Fear, whose narrative is a visceral stream of consciousness reflecting on years of abusive parenting. Occasionally, the book will jump back in time, just a bit, to rewind in the killer’s eyes: how they went about stalking and overpowering a victim. The book’s pacing is unbalanced, however. Readers want more insight into the killer and unfortunately, the majority of the narrative is dedicated to trying to build fear through high school gossip chains.
VERDICT A unique blend of mystery and abuse narrative that will have readers intrigued; not for the fainthearted.

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