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Temptation – Travis Thrasher

Genre: Young Adult/Suspense

Publisher: David C. Cook

Publication Date: April 2012

Reviewed by Josh Olds

QUICK HIT – In the third book in The Solitary Tales, Chris Buckley has reached his breaking point. I wouldn’t want to actually be in Chris Buckley’s shoes, but being able to step into them through Thrasher’s art of story has been an entertaining and thought-provoking experience I won’t soon forget.

Chris Buckley needs answers but he also needs his sanity. Given the events of Solitary and Gravestone, those two things just might be mutually exclusive. Ever since Chris and his mom moved to the supposedly sleepy town of Solitary, strange things have been happening. Well, that’s an understatement. More like Chris finds himself caught up in a town that acts like nothing is wrong while covering up blatant murder, occult activity, a beyond weird pastor, a mysterious past, and something to do with mannequins. Something demonic is going down in Solitary and somehow Chris is tied to it.

In Temptation, Chris decides he simply cannot take the fight anymore and gives up. Let evil continue. He can’t stop it. He should be able to enjoy his last year in high school as much as possible and then just get out, leave, call it quits. Never speak of Solitary again. Or Jocelyn. Or Poe. Or Kelsey. If he can’t uncover the truth, he’ll run from the carnage it brings. Only he’s running the wrong direction.

But it’s in running that Chris begins to find some answers—maybe. The pastor, Jeremiah Marsh, seems intent on revealing more of his secrets to Chris. Solitary’s tie to Chris’s ancestry is revealed. Questions Chris longed to have answered now seem to find him. Running away turns out to be not an option, because whatever evil there is in the town needs him. He can fight or give up but he can’t not play the game. Temptation is a battle for Chris Buckley’s soul. And by the time he realizes it, it just might be too late.

After two novels of many questions and few answers, Thrasher pulls back the veil to give readers just enough answers to keep us guessing and begging for more. Chris’s desire to just be normal (and not like some character in a YA novel, he comments wryly at one point) is one of the cardinal desires of young adults—or anyone—trying to find their place in the world. Travis does a great job of diving into Chris’s character and making readers empathize with his plight. Not the plight of death and horror in Solitary, but the plight of death and horror in Chris Buckley’s soul.

Temptation is about a kid who reaches the end of himself—and rightfully so, given what we know of his story—and finds that it’s only then that can he make the decision of who he is going to be. Thrasher writes in such a way that Chris’s journey becomes our own and we find ourselves sucked into the story and unable to escape. And just like its predecessors, Temptation left me wanting so much more all while feeling satisfied at what had been revealed. With one book remaining to put the pieces together, Thrasher is settling in to close out what has been an awesome series. I wouldn’t want to actually be in Chris Buckley’s shoes, but being able to step into them through Thrasher’s art of story has been an entertaining and thought-provoking experience I won’t soon forget.

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