Like so many of us, I grew up on a healthy diet of Goosebumps books. They probably have much to blame for my later-life passion/obsession with horror, and for that R. L. Stine has my eternal gratitude.
Skip forward many years and much extreme horror later, and I see my pal Robbie Myles has released a YA horror tale in the vein of Goosebumps. Maybe it was all the ungodly traumas of my favourite books and films I’d put myself through – not to mention the writing of my own violent nightmare of a novel – but the prospect of returning to a more innocent strain of my beloved genre presented itself as pretty damned appealing.
Enter: Don’t Call at All.
This is a story that revolves around the relatively recent development in humanity of complete and utter technological accessibility to children, specifically mobile phones. Being a middle school teacher himself, Robbie is particularly attuned to this recent phenomenon, and this drove him to write a Goosebumps-inspired YA tale about a boy who does NOT have this technological availability; a child who would do anything to acquire his own mobile phone, the supposed rite of passage to the social circles he so desperately wishes to join.
Except, in typical Goosebumps style, the unassuming phone he eventually acquires will prove the catalyst for his very own personal nightmare.
I’m not much of a YA expert, and as such can’t comment with much expertise on Robbie’s book, but I found it clear, concise, imaginative, and highly enjoyable. Most importantly, I didn’t feel like it spoon-fed the reader – a mistake I suspect many books geared towards younger readers may make. It’s important we teach kids not only the joy of reading, but in the process also encourage them to exercise their critical and attentive faculties. Don’t Call at All does just this.
So whether you’re a parent who would like to encourage your child both to read and take their first step into horror, or whether you know a child for whom you’d like to do this service, or if you just want to relive your own first experiences of the genre, Robbie’s book is the one to go for.
Full marks from me!