McBride, L. (2010). Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. New York, NY: Henry Holt.
Plot Summary: Sam is an average teen who works at a local fast food joint with his friends. This changes when he breaks a tail light during a game of potato hockey and catches the attention of a powerful necromancer named Douglas. He learns that he is a necromancer too when and after one of his friends is beheaded he is forced to join Douglas and learn how to control the dead. He isn’t Douglas’s only prisoner though he has also kidnapped a local werewolf and keeps her in the same prison he keeps Sam in. She tries to help him but Sam Soon finds himself about to be executed and have his power stolen by Douglas. Luckily his friends from the fast food joint have been working hard to try to save him and his best friend bursts in with the local pack of werewolves providing enough distraction for Sam to kill Douglas and unintentionally absorb his power.
Critical Evaluation: This book is really funny throughout but this often distracts from the seriousness of the situation. Some people deal with stress by using humor but it seems that nearly every character in the book has this reaction. The only serious scene is the final battle and as soon as that is over everyone is back to making jokes even some people are injured, one of his friends has been turned into a werebear, and his friend who has been beheaded is still just a head. Beyond some initial shock the fact that one of his friends and co-workers was turned into just a head doesn’t really seem all that horrifying. She gets sad a few times and feels bad about her parents but otherwise she is making jokes like everyone else. Sam and all of his friends respond surprisingly well to all the magical stuff they find out about throughout the book. The whole book has a very humorous tone because of this that may be enjoyable for some readers while annoying others who want something more serious. There also isn’t a lot of character growth, Sam has some as he accepts who he is but overall the characters aren’t particularly changed. Even the character who spends most of the book as a head who is eventually reunited with her body at the end of the book and becomes a ghost is not much changed personality wise despite her adventure and death. This can somewhat be blamed on the short timeframe of the book but is still a little odd.
Reader’s Annotation: When an accident at work reveals Sam is a necromancer his life gets a lot weirder and a lot more dangerous.
Author Information: Lish McBride has written Hold Me Closer, Necromancer and it’s sequel Necromancing the Stone. She has also written another YA novel Firebug, which has a sequel coming out next year, and some short stories. She currently lives in Seattle and was raised in the Pacific North West she did however leave for college in New Orleans.
Booktalk Ideas: 1) How does the humor in the story add to or distract readers from the overall story?
2) Which character do you think handled the magical revelations the best and do you think they handled things realistically?
Reading Level & Interest Level: This book is listed as being for ages 14-17 but I know some younger readers read and enjoy the book. I think this age rating is pretty accurate though as it may be a little too mature for some younger readers while older readers may not appreciate the constant humor as much.
Challenge Issues: Some of the scenes are violent and there are several mentions of murders and some animal cruelty when Sam is forced to kill a dove to summon the dead. This may be too mature for some readers but is expected from this type of novel and anyone who reads the description on the back cover or inner flap will see that it refers to Douglas’s violent nature and even refers to him as a psychotic killer. There is also one brief sex scene and some mentions of sex throughout the book though there isn’t anything graphic. I have not heard of any attempts to challenge or ban this book.
Why is it included?: I first heard about this book when it was read by a classmate in the materials for tweens class I previously took. It was really popular with tweens at the school where he taught even though it is intended for an older age group. I was really interested in the book based on his description and I do think it is a good book to have in a collection. I would probably only recommend the books to teens because of the violence though I see how the humor appeals to both teens and tweens.