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Project 17by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Synopses & Reviews
High atop Hathorne Hill, near Boston, sits Danvers State Hospital. Built in 1878 and closed in 1992, this abandoned mental institution is rumored to be the birthplace of the lobotomy. Locals have long believed the place to be haunted. They tell stories about the unmarked graves in the back, of the cold spots felt throughout the underground tunnels, and of the treasures found inside: patients' personal items like journals, hair combs, and bars of soap, or even their old medical records, left behind by the state for trespassers to view.
On the eve of the hospital's demolition, six teens break in to spend the night and film a movie about their adventures. For Derik, it's an opportunity to win a filmmaking contest and save himself from a future of flipping burgers at his parents' diner. For the others, it's a chance to be on TV, or a night with no parents. But what starts as a playful dare quickly escalates into a frenzy of nightmarish action. Behind the crumbling walls, down every dark passageway, and in each deserted room, they will unravel the mysteries of those who once lived there and the spirits who still might.
"An abandoned mental institution serves as the setting for this mildly scary novel, sort of a Breakfast Club meets Blair Witch Project. Senior year of high school finds Derik (La Playa) LaPointe (from Stolarz's Bleed) making a film in hopes of winning an internship at a reality-TV network. Derik assembles a cast of students from different cliques, then, with help from a classmate similarly obsessed with the Danvers State Hospital, sneaks everyone inside the condemned building and plans to film there overnight. Most of the characters are barely acquainted, and each has a different motive for participating in the project (the straight-A student needs to round out her resume to improve her chances at Harvard; the drama geek wants stardom; the outcast hopes to find traces of her grandmother, who died at Danvers). Exploring how these figures interact is the meat of the novel: they mature over the six or so hours encompassed in the book, pairing off and eventually becoming a team, looking out for one another and united in purpose. Although the action reads like a laundry list for a PG-13 horror movie — the timely discovery of a journal, rats, floors giving way when people step on them, etc. — a soupon of mystery combines with supernatural overtones to move the plot along rapidly. The familiar story arc and devices comfortably contain the chills, entertaining the target audience without hitting any nerves. Ages 12-up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Though light on character development, this Breakfast Club meets Blair Witch Project page-turner will appeal to genre fans with its intense treatment of classic horror tropes." Hornbook Guide to Children
"Page-turning action, genuine scares, and a satisfying conclusion should make this a hit with teens." School Library Journal
High atop Hathorne Hill, near Boston, sits an abandoned mental institute rumored to be the birthplace of the lobotomy. On the eve of the hospital's demolition, six teens break in to spend the night and film a movie. What starts as a playful dare escalates into a nightmare.
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