Solitary, by Travis Thrasher
Solitary is the first book in the Solitary Tales series by Travis Thrasher. The book follows Chris Buckley, a sixteen-year-old who moves from Chicago to Solitary, NC after his parents divorce. Once he arrives in Solitary, really weird things start to happen. First Chris starts getting harassed by the local bully, Gus. Then he finds notes taped to the inside of his locker, telling him secrets, all signed A Friend. Chris starts to notice the school beauty, Jocelyn, and no sooner after does everyone start telling Chris to stay away from her. After discovering lots of weird people and weird secrets, Chris decides to start playing detective…and this leads him to trouble.
Warning: Spoilers follow here.
Ever since moving here, Chris has hated his life. He misses his friends and his former life back in Chicago, and hates how barren and boring the town of Solitary is. But the feeling is mutual, because everyone hates him, too. Chris and his mom moved to Solitary because Chris’s uncle – his moms’ brother – lived there. But ever since they moved there, he hasn’t been seen or heard from. The first people he meets at his new school are three girls named Poe, Rachael, and Jocelyn. Chris immediately falls for Jocelyn. But from day one, Jocelyn (and everyone else) tries to tell Chris to stay away from her. This doesn’t deter him in the least. After meeting and getting harassed by the school bully and the son of the most respected man in town, Gus, Chris begins to wonder why everyone is trying to get to him. And the weird stuff just keeps happening – threatening emails, phone calls, and in-person warnings, weird behavior from all the local townspeople, bizarre rumors of cult behavior. Newt, a little peon at school, seems to know everything about the town and is able to relay some of that info to Chris. Apparently, every year around Christmas, one of the local kids go “missing.” No one knows what happens to them, they just disappear. What’s more, everyone else in town just pretends it never happened. There are some really creepy secrets in the air, and Chris wants to solve the mystery of Solitary. Against Jocelyn’s wishes, he continues to contact her and the two eventually strike up a relationship. At first, all is well, but after a few weeks, Chris begins being threatened again. Jocelyn shows Chris a large boulder where the believes sacrifices are made. She also believes the missing kids from Christmastimes past to be the victims of these sacrifices. At first Chris is freaked out, but it’s all he has to go on. After Chris and his mom finally get Internet in their house, Chris realizes he is being tracked online by unseen forces. Chris finds muddy footsteps on his porch that end at a window. His bike tires are slashed. He is constantly warned to stay away, to get away, and to mind his own business. Toward the end of the book, a mysterious letter arrives for Chris after Jocelyn goes “missing.” Thinking the letter is from her, Chris opens it. It’s not signed, but only offers directions and a time, stating that Jocelyn’s life depends on it. Chris follows the instructions in the letter and meets an unknown woman in an SUV who drops him off in the woods, telling him to scare a group of hooded figures. She claims scaring them will alert them that they are being watched, and might make them back off. After attempting this, and ending up shooting one of the hooded figures, Chris runs through the woods, passes out, and then continues through the woods until he ends up at Jocelyn’s house. Once there, Chris finds the telephone lines disconnected and the Internet out. There is an email that was never sent on the laptop screen in Jocelyn’s room telling Chris that “it’s going to happen before the new year” and to go to the place she told him about. Chris rushes to the boulder, only to be too late. Jocelyn has been sacrificed. One of the hooded figures tells him to never speak about the incident and to leave. Chris walks away, and returns home, wondering what to do next.
This book was really great…until the end. Here’s a screen cap of a review from Barnes and Noble’s website. I think it sums up a lot of what I felt at the end.
I have SO many questions! How does Newt fit into all this? What was Jocelyn’s big secret? Is Wade back, does he know any of the town’s secrets? And so many more. I will add, when I got this eBook, it was a Free Fridays Selection from Nook. I bought it without knowing it was part of a series, which I think a lot of other people did as well. I was expecting the book to wrap up, and as I got closer to the end, I realized there were only 20 pages left and it was far from being solved. Once I finished the book, I looked up the author’s website, and found out it was a series, already up to the fourth book. Evidently, this series is one long story, as opposed to four separate ones in the same universe. Really wish I had known that before starting! I found the writing enjoyable, and well-paced. Some parts also reminded me of Butcher’s writing. I read this book in-between Dresden books, because I was waiting on #8, the last one we don’t own, to show up at the library. Now it has. I have it. So I will now read it. I give this book 3/5 stars. I liked the writing and the story a lot, but I wish it has wrapped up better.
For Next Time
Proven Guilty, by Jim Butcher
The White Council of Wizards has drafted Harry Dresden as a Warden and assigned him to look into rumors of black magic in Chicago. Malevolent entities that feed on fear are loose in the Windy City, but it’s all in a day’s work for a wizard, his faithful dog, and a talking skull named Bob.