cover image The Loop

The Loop

Jeremy Robert Johnson. Saga, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5344-5429-3

This unputdownable coming-of-age thriller from Johnson (Skullcrack City) melds body horror, conspiracy theories, and bizarre science gone wrong. Lucy and her friend Bucket are two of the only brown kids in the majority white Turner Falls high school, and are used to abuse from other kids and the feeling of being outsiders. But when an evil corporation, IMTECH, decides to test its top-secret biotech on the town’s teenagers, bullying becomes the least of their problems. At a party, Lucy and Bucket witness their classmates brutalizing each other, the result of being affected by the biotech. Together with Lucy’s crush and a local conspiracy theorist, Lucy and Bucket must survive the night and save their classmates from themselves. Johnson has a gift for lightening up dark moments with humor and human connection, and though set over the course of an all-night gore-fest, the well-shaded characters are given plenty of room to breathe; the moments of quiet make the scares all the more powerful. Fans of The Twilight Zone, The X-Files, and Stranger Things will be especially thrilled. Agent: Molly Glick, CAA. (Sept.)