Book Review: Hangman’s Curse

Hangman’s Curse
Veritas Project
#1

by Frank Peretti

My rating: 5 / 5
Genre: YA Christian thriller

The Springfields are a family of investigators—Dad, Mom, and twin siblings Elijah and Elisha—for the Veritas Project, which seeks to find the truth behind strange mysteries and crimes when others are unable or unwilling to see past the surface. They’re sent to a high school in Washington where kids are falling mysteriously ill with symptoms of fear and paranoia. As the family begins to assimilate into the school, they’re shocked to discover how certain students are treated, both by other students and by the faculty. Can they discover who—or what—has the school’s most popular kids seeing a ghost?

This book and its sequel, both of which I read several times back when they were new, are a large part of why Peretti has been my favorite author since high school. This is the first time in at least 10 years that I’ve read it, and it did not disappoint. The core issue in this book hit me a lot harder this time, maybe partly because I’m older now, but also because I read Peretti’s semi-autobiographical book The Wounded Spirit last year for the first time, which describes heavy bullying in his adolescence, and that really put this book into a new perspective for me. While it certainly does not excuse the kids who have been bullied and then retaliated, it sheds a light on the incredible injustice that can be prevalent in schools.

One thing that I think could trip some people up about this book is that the very premise of the series isn’t realistic. The fact that it’s the president of the United States who establishes this investigative group specifically with a Judeo-Christian perspective, as well as the teenagers of the family being investigators themselves, it’s not believable in this day and age. However, like with others of Peretti’s books, I think it’s perfectly okay to not think of it as meant to be completely realistic, and think of it more as a “what if” scenario. And in that way, it’s very insightful. I also question the likelihood of a high school teacher at that time actually teaching kids that there is no right or wrong…seems pretty foolish, since at a school, they’d most likely want kids to believe that the rules are right and that breaking the rules is wrong. Otherwise, they’re inviting anarchy. In today’s society (only 20 years later), though, I would buy this a lot more.

One last thing I should mention is definitely a spoiler, so highlight the black text at your own risk. If you have an issue with spiders, you may need to be careful reading this book. My own phobia is pretty bad, but I was able to push through. I don’t know if that’s an indication of how much I like the book or how un-intrusive the issue was, but it’s there. I do love this book, though I don’t know how well I’ll be able to watch the movie. I own it and have definitely watched it more than once in the past. I’m not sure if that means my phobia has grown over time or if the movie just isn’t too bad. There is one sequel to this book (man, do I wish Peretti had written more of these), and I remember liking it even more than this one, so I’m pretty excited about it. I highly recommend this book to all fans of Christian thrillers, whether you’re a teenager or adult.

Find out more about Hangman’s Curse

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If you’ve read any of this series, or read any in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books of My Youth

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is “Books I Enjoyed but Rarely Talk About”. Considering that I’ve only been reading seriously for 9 months, all of the books that I’ve really liked have been in a TTT post at some point or other (some multiple times). So I searched a little further back and came up with 10 books that I read back when I used to read avidly, a pastime that had ended by 15 years ago. Only 2 of these books have been on a TTT post of mine before this.

This list is mostly made up of books I read in high school (some for English class, some for myself), with maybe one or two a little later than that. Most I’ve read multiple times, but just not within the last 15 years. I own almost all of these, as I liked them enough back then to buy a copy, and all of them I will most likely again soon and give them a proper review.


Hangman’s Curse and Nightmare Academy by Frank Peretti
There are many reasons why Frank Peretti is my favorite author, and this far-too-short series is one of them. I’ve read both of these several times and love them so much, especially the 2nd one. I only wish Peretti had written more of them.

Obsessed by Ted Dekker
I read this book several times after it came out in 2004. It fed into my serious interest in the Holocaust as a teenager and young adult (as is evidenced by several more of the books below), even though it’s fiction.

Maus and Maus II by Art Spiegelman
In the AP English classes I took for the latter 3 years of high school, we had some assigned books, and were allowed to choose our own classics. At one point, the school librarian came to our class to talk about a list of books that had won or been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) Award in the past, referring to them as modern classics. Our teacher told us that we could pick one of these in place of an old classic. Considering that the books on this list were generally shorter and easier to read…I picked them as many times as I was allowed. Maus II was on that list. Of course, it was the 2nd half of a story, but I liked it so much, I later bought both books.

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
Corrie ten Boom’s story is incredibly inspirational. I’m pretty sure I wrote a research paper using this book in some way. I did a lot of papers and speeches on Holocaust-related subjects in high school.

Night by Elie Wiesel
I don’t really have any to say about this one besides that it’s just more testament to my fascination with the Holocaust. I don’t remember this book very well, so it’ll probably be almost like reading it new when I do get to it again. Also, there are other books of this subject that I read back then, but those I included in this list are the ones I remember the most.

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Ophelia Speaks by Sara Shandler
Like with Maus, this book was one I was allowed to read for English class as a “modern classic.” Though I’m pretty sure it was Reviving Ophelia that had won the award. This book gives a voice to the teenage girls that the other book discussed, and even I, in my sheltered world, really identified with a lot of the essays. Written by adolescent girls with a range of topics about struggling to become a woman–about family, friends, physical and emotional trauma, and much more, I will likely have my daughter read it in a few years.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This is one of the few classics I read in high school that I actually enjoyed (and frankly, one of the few I could actually follow very well). However, being that I was in high school at the time, I definitely need to read it again now, partly because I can read it for pleasure (not having to analyze every chapter) and partly because I’ll most likely pick up on a lot that I missed back then.

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
After we read Hamlet, our teacher had our class read this play. I remember thinking how great of a teacher she was, considering how much fun the play is. And then we watched the movie with Gary Oldman and Tim Roth, of which I can really only remember the tennis scene…and papers flying everywhere that I didn’t get the point of. I’ll have to re-watch that after I re-read the book.

The Eagle and the Lamb by Darlene Mindrup
Story time: When I was a teenager, my family took a trip out to Arizona to visit my grandparents. My grandma had a huge collection of Christian romance books, and I read a few while we were staying there. There was one that I remembered liking more than all of the others, but years later, when I tried to find it again, I couldn’t remember the title. I thought it was something to do with “lion and lamb”, so over the last few years I’ve done Google searches for those words and what I could remember of the story, which is just that the main characters were a Roman centurion and a Jewish slave. For a while recently I thought it might have been A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers (it first in a series called Mark of the Lion and was published several years before my family went to AZ), but when I saw the length of that book–it wasn’t exactly the mass-market type romance I remembered reading–I dug a little more and was really excited when I found this book. The cover even looks familiar! Unlike when I came across A Voice in the Wind, I am 100% certain I have found the right one now. This will be an interesting experiment to find out if I even remotely like this book as much as an adult as I did as a teenager. (I still plan to read A Voice in the Wind at some point too!)

Have you read any of these, or are any on your own TBR? Link your TTT post so I can check out yours!