Sarah's Stars

Laurie Faria Stolarz. Project 17
Hyperion  $19.99   ISBN 978-0-7868-3856-1  256 pg.  
Reviewed by Ceilidh, Age 15

“Derik, what is it?” Liza asks.

Some of the others ask me stuff, too. But I can’t really answer. I mean, how do you even put it into words?

I zoom in on a series of pictures, somehow still glued to the wall. They’re done in a mix of paint and crayon—a patient chained to a bed; a lady dancing with this huge-ass smile across her face, despite the shock treatment tabs stuck to her forehead; a bunch of patients carrying a casket out to the cemetery; a little boy sitting in a hydrotherapy tub, clutching his teddy bear; a naked patient crouched in the corner of a stark and empty room; a girl caught in a spider web made of barbed-wire spikes.

And a woman with the freakiest eyes I’ve ever seen. She doesn’t have a mouth—just those eyes, and a long, pointed nose. When I zoom in closer to capture those eyes, I notice it—the number seventeen sitting there in place of the pupil.

Derik is a typical teenager, who’s looking for something to keep him occupied, or maybe just to get him through the rest of life. When a contest is announced which happens to include one of his passions: filmmaking, Derik begins to round up people to be in his film. The plan for his film is somewhat of a thriller set in the abandoned mental hospital at the top of Hawthorne Hill, about to be torn down in a few weeks. He, Tony, Chet, Mimi, Liza and Greta arrive at the institution just fine, they get in alright as well, but once they are inside, they realize that they may not be the only ones in the building. When they continue to find clues leading back to a girl named Christy, and the number seventeen, everywhere, they know that they are not the only ones.

To put it bluntly, I really loved this book. I almost find it difficult to put words into how much I loved it, in fact. When I began this book, I knew that I did not get scared of books, nor did I believe in the idea of ghosts, and by the end of this book, I was frightened, and questioning my beliefs. The vivid description in this book really made it an absolute masterpiece; I really enjoyed how brilliant the descriptions were. I had difficulties putting this book down because most of the time I felt as if I was watching an extremely good thriller motion picture. I got attached to the characters, and felt for each one of them, including the one you would never expect. I also enjoyed the descriptions of the mental hospital while it was still running, though all the things that had happened to the patients in the mental hospital were extremely inhumane it was interesting to see how the concepts of how to actually help people have changed throughout the years of medicine and care-facilities. Stories about mental institutions have always interested me, so this book is definitely high on my list.

I give this book five quivering stars out of five because with every corner the characters went around my heart skipped a beat. I recommend this book for ages 14 and up, because it did get frightening at times and some of the content was a little rough.

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