Friday, December 2, 2011

Reunion by Jeff Bennington

My Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Title: Reunion

Author: Jeff Bennington

Genre: Supernatural Thriller

Length: 194 Pages


Twenty years after surviving a school shooting, Tanner Khan and his fellow classmates reluctantly agree to hold a reunion. Although they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, they come back to their hometown and reunite in the defunct school building. Old flames are rekindled, fears are ignited and their lives are about to explode in a whirlwind of memories, haunted by the spirit of David Ray, the troubled teen who killed many of their classmates.

Once inside the old school, they discover that a dark entity has joined them. It has come to collect a debt, long overdue and someone has to pay. Will Tanner and his classmates overcome their fears and put the pieces of their lives back together, or will they be consumed by their worst nightmare? Find out in this groundbreaking suspense thriller that is frightening and powerfully moving.


Reunion is an interesting take on something that happens in society all too often - school shootings. At least that's the basis for everything else that happens in the story. Taking such a controversial subject and writing a story about it is what writers do. Sadly, they don't always do it very well...but Mr. Bennington has done an excellent job with this topic. He is respectful, and takes the time at the beginning of the book to pay a small tribute to other victims and survivors of such horrific events. The majority of this book, however, is not about the shooting itself, but what happens to the survivors as they go on with their lives.

I started this book on a whim, in between other books. I figured I'd just start it and see what it was because I was kind of in the mood for a thriller. I started it on a break from work, not really having any intention at that time to continue reading it right away. This author does such a fantastic job of immediately grabbing you, that I had a really hard time putting it down to go back to work. Throughout the evening I continued to read it every chance I got, including sitting at my desk reading a couple of pages here and there while I worked. My plans to only check it out went right out the window and I read it start to finish that same day.

The first few chapters are the lead up to the school shooting, showing most of our cast of characters as young, high school students. After the shooting, we flash forward about twenty years as they prepare for a reunion of the event that changed their lives forever and to honor the victims. Mr. Bennington did an excellent job with the tension in the first chapters - well, throughout the book, really, but with the first few chapters, especially. He made you care about these kids he was showing you in a very short time and by the time the unimaginable happened you were cringing in the your seat. 

The author also does a very good job with handling the number of characters he is dealing with. As a writer, it can be hard to give that many main characters separate, distinct enough personalities that they stand out from each other, but he did well. It was interesting to see how these kids that we met in the first chapters had grown up, the impact that the violence had on their lives and what they became. It was also interesting to see how the underlying high school stereotypes shaped who they became as well.

On the surface, this is a tension filled, haunting, suspenseful read that kept me turning the pages well into the night. Beneath all of that though, this book really shows a problem that is becoming an epidemic in this country. That problem is bullying at school and the lack of compassion that a lot of kids have for each other, and the circumstances that some of their fellow classmates have to live with.

There's an interesting twist at the end - definitely not what I was expecting. Roles are reversed, quite adeptly, and by the end I was rooting for the one guy throughout the book that seemed like a jerk. I had also stopped rooting for the guy that seemed like the "good guy" throughout the book. Over all, very well written. If you are in the mood for a suspenseful, creepy read then this one is well worth checking out.



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