by Michael J. Bowler
published by YoungDudes
Why read? Review
Even when writing immersed in a genre, Michael J. Bowler manages to deliver a strong message. Spinner may be a YA horror about evil cats, a hypnotic music box, and other strange mysteries, but it is also a tale of acceptance and strength.
Alex has known he is different his whole life. Not only is he confined to a wheelchair with a severe learning disorder, he also has a bizarre talent for taking away the pain of others. His house mom makes sure he knows he is a freak, as do most of the kids at school. The only people who truly accept him for who he is are the other boys in his small Special Ed class, especially his best friend, Roy. In class is the one place that Alex truly feels accepted, but all of that changes when his teacher is mysteriously murdered, clawed to death by cats, just like Alex dreamed. Alex starts having more dreams after that, also going into bizarre blackouts when he hears a haunting music box. Now Alex and his friends must figure out where the cats have come from, what Alex’s dreams mean, and who is their new teacher, really. With plenty of forces against them, both internal and external, the boys have plenty of obstacles to overcome if they are going to save Alex and themselves.
Bowler does an amazing job of creating characters who might seem like outcasts and making them real instead of generic stereotypes (except for some overuse of words that I, having worked with teenagers, have never heard a teen use). The strength of his characters, in this case Alex and Roy, really endears them to the readers. Both boys have a lot of things against them, but they know they are strong in their own way, and use that to their advantage. And here is a big thing, especially for teenagers – neither is afraid to ask for help. Mix these strong characters with an eerie mystery and you have a teen thriller with amazing depth.
Spinner is a refreshing addition to the YA horror genre. Michael J. Bowler pulls influences from novels from the heyday of teen thrillers and mixes them with current issues to great one heck of a read.