Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cirque du Freak #1: A Living Nightmare

A Living Nightmare (Cirque Du Freak, #1) A Living Nightmare by Darren Shan Reading level: Ages 9-12 Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers (April 1, 2004) My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lead:
I was in the bathroom at school, sitting down on the toilet, humming a song. I had my pants on. I'd come in near the end of English class, feeling sick. My teacher, Mr. Dalton, is great about things like that. He's smart and knows when you're faking and when you're being serious. He took one look at me when I raised my hand and said I was ill, then nodded his head and told me to go to the bathroom.
Back cover:
In the tradition of Stephen King's Salem's Lot, the bestselling Cirque du Freak is the frightening saga of a boy whose visit to a mysterious freak show leads him on a journey into a dark world of vampires. Author Darren Shan's vivid detail and original voice will have readers glued to their seats in terror.

Thoughts: Since the movie, The Vampire's Assistant, is coming out this month, I decided to reread this book. I read it when it first came out in 2000 and over the years have added the other books in this series.

Reading it again has reaffirmed my belief that this is an EXCELLENT book for reluctant readers. This is not high brow literature. Shan's ability to word smith is not on display here, but the character of Darren is immediately likeable. The descriptions of the freak show are vivid and horrific without being over-the-top gross, the action is fast-paced, and the ending still makes me cry. As far as books for reluctant readers goes, this series flies out of my classroom library and I've had to replace the books several times because they've been "well loved."

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