Thursday, December 8, 2011

Following Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci

Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books

Pages: 416

Series or Stand Alone: Sequel to The Body of Christopher Creed

Summary: Years later . . . what really happened to Christopher Creed? When Torey Adams posts on his blog that a body has been found in Steepleton—four years after Christopher Creed disappeared—college reporter Mike Mavic sells his laptop and hops a plane to capture the story that will undoubtedly launch his journalistic career. But what Mike finds is a town suffering under a cloud of bad frequency and people with an underlying streak of meanness. To the teens of Steepleton, Chris is nothing more than history—but to Justin Creed, a teen obsessed with his older brother’s memory and balancing on the edge of sanity, discovering what really happened to Chris Creed is a matter of life and death.

I ripped this book off the new shelf when I saw it at the library. Somehow, it had evaded my notice until I saw that shelf, which I find a little odd since I practically stalk books all over the interwebs. I had no idea that there was ever going to be a sequel to The Body of Christopher Creed, a book I read in my freshman year of high school that stuck with me even though I could not remember basically anything about it. The only thing I did remember is that Carol Plum-Ucci did not tie up the ending with a nice little bow--the mystery of Christopher Creed was still unsolved. I took it out immediately, wanting to read it as soon as I could. Then I had to wait for another library to send me a copy of The Body of Christopher Creed so I could know what the hell was going on.
Following Christopher Creed continues the story of the creepy town of Steepleton four years after the disappearance of Christopher Creed. The story is narrated by Mike Mavic, an outsider that is looking to find out about current and past mysteries with his girlfriend, RayAnn, in order to make it as a journalist. He meets Justin Creed, the newly drug addicted younger brother of Christopher, and attempts to help him and garner information about Christopher. Through Justin, Mike makes contact with a myriad of veteran characters from The Body of Christopher Creed, including Torey, Ali, Bo, and even Christopher's mother, the now-creepily-nicknamed Mother Creed.
One of the aspects that made me love The Body of Christopher Creed so much was Torey's narration. This meant that I was not exactly thrilled when I saw that the narration of the second book would be done by a character that was not even in the first book. Mike Mavic was a complete outsider even though he had basically stalked the website Torey created to tell the story of Christopher Creed's disappearance and to post any updates that came through. I suppose that I was more attached to Torey's narrative style than I thought, but after a little while I started to think it might be interesting to see the story continue through the eyes of the legally blind college reporter that was simply searching for his big break. Of course, there's more to Mike that only that. 
I don't want to say too much about this story because I know how intense the mystery of Christopher Creed is. It should be spoiled for no one. I will say that Carol Plum-Ucci continued to demonstrate her skill in creating a creepy, melancholic environment with characters to match. While Torey, Ali, and Bo aren't the ones at the forefront of this novel, they do return towards the middle of the story. They all have grown up and demonstrate changes fitting of twenty-somethings that have moved away from terrible occurrences in their pasts. Any fans of the original story will love the return of these three. Mike proved to be a good narrator, though I will not say that he was able to match Torey in awesomeness. 
The ending was fantastic. That's really all I can say about it without giving anything away. This is probably one of the vaguest posts I've every written about a book.
I wish Carol Plum-Ucci had developed the problems in Steepleton a little bit more. In the beginning there is talk of "bad frequency," something that is causing an increase in suicide, runaways, car accidents, and general "meanness" in the town. I don't remember getting an explanation as to why these things were happening. It seemed that this kind of fell away in order to search for the solution to the Chris Creed mystery. I was a little disappointed to see it fall by the wayside; I thought it added even more of a creep factor to the town. To see that mystery fully realized would have made this a great sequel. While it was still good, it was not quite up to the caliber of its predecessor.
Carol Plum-Ucci brought a satisfying conclusion to the Christopher Creed mystery with Following Christopher Creed. Using new characters and old alongside one another brought in a new perspective on the mystery and on the town in general. Fans of the original story should definitely pick up the sequel in order to have their original questions answered. Anyone who didn't read the original should just go read it now and count yourself lucky that the sequel is already out--the rest of us had to wait seven or eight years!

Rating: 4 - good.

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