cover image Project 17

Project 17

Laurie Faria Stolarz, . . Hyperion, $15.99 (248pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-3856-1

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 soupçon 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. (Dec.)