“ Genre: Horror / Author: Justine Musk / Paperback / Reading Level: Young Adult / 272 Pages / Book is published 2008-03-17 by Pocket Books „
It seems that in the world of entertainment, companies have taken to branching out in order to increase their market share. World Wrestling Entertainment has books, music and films aimed at their particular target audience and now I have seen something from MTV Books, which I was previously unaware of.
"Uninvited" seems to me to be the ideal book for the MTV generation. Kelly Ruland is a high school student living in the shadow of her elder brother. Jasper had been involved in a car accident that left two of his friends dead, but he walked away. And he kept walking, right out of town and no-one has heard from him since.
Suddenly, without warning, Jasper returns to town, although he looks and acts a little different from how he once did. In his wake come a bunch of bikers led by Archie, who is determined that Jasper's future lies with them. Suddenly, having not even seen him for ages, Kelly finds herself in the middle of a battle to save her brother's soul.
There's nothing terribly original about any part of the concept here. The basic idea is one of the foundations of horror writing, as are some of the characters, particularly the evil ones. But that's not really Musk's fault, as it is pretty difficult to find anything truly original in horror writing these days, the same as it is in music, because so much has been written before.
In her defence, Musk does quite well with what she does have. Admittedly, it's not a great work of literature, but it is well enough written to keep you reading. The pace of the action starts off and ends a little too slowly, but once it picks up, the action keeps progressing at quite a high pace for most of the book.
I would have preferred it if the book had more of an even pace and there was a little circling around things and a failure to get to the heart of the matter quite early on. It did feel like Musk was deliberately stringing things out, realising that there wouldn't be enough material for a decent length book if she got around to telling that part of the story too early in proceedings. I think she was possibly trying to give the main characters a little more depth, but I didn't feel she was successful in that and they never had much depth to me. Although part of this may have been because they weren't of an age group I could fully relate to.
I felt that the same was true of the ending, which seemed to take a little bit too long to get to the point. The story ended well, but then things seemed to drag on a little bit afterwards, almost as if Musk was setting things up for a sequel. Whilst either end of the book wasn't great, the bits in the middle were good enough that this didn't matter too much. Those parts were a disappointment, but not enough to ruin the book completely, just to act as a slight annoyance.
The writing reminds me of Christopher Pike, with the action all revolving around a group of teenagers and with the pace being high, if not the overall quality. This makes for an entertaining, if not involving read and it's short enough to fit with the attention span of the MTV generation. A couple of references to current pop music and culture suggests that the book may date badly and also pinpoint the target audience as being at the young adult end of the spectrum rather than my own age group.
Perhaps appropriately for MTV books, the book has the overall feel of a remake of an old song. Essentially, there's no real originality here, but the minor details are changed enough that it's not a direct copy. If this book were a record, it would be a minor R 'n' B hit using samples of a song you really like, but once you've heard it on the radio a few times, you'll be bored of it and want something else. But for the short while your attention is focussed on it, you'll get enough entertainment to keep you happy.
I did enjoy the book, as it made for an entertaining diversion, if nothing else. I do feel, however, that someone in the target audience may be able to relate to the characters and the pop culture references better than I could and may get more out of it. If that is the case, it will be a highly enjoyable experience. Fans of teen based horror such as Christopher Pike, or the "Final Destination" series of movies are also likely to find much to like here and for prices from as little as 20 pence at the Amazon Marketplace, there's no harm in taking a chance. Why wait to be invited?
This is a slightly amended version of a review previously published under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk