The Wicker King
The Wicker King
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Annotation: Best friends August and Jack struggle to cope as one spirals into madness. Contains Mature Material
Catalog Number: #149471
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Mature Content Mature Content
Publisher: Macmillan
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 313 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-250-10154-9
ISBN 13: 978-1-250-10154-9
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2016058478
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Told in flashes of microfiction and progressively darkening pages of evocative doodles and hand-scrawled notes, Ancrum's debut explores the simmering, troubling, codependent relationship between two teen boys, as one becomes plagued by hallucinations of another world, and the other goes to self-destructive lengths to protect him. August and Jack have been friends since they were kids, but they travel in radically different orbits at school. When Jack starts seeing odd objects and receiving strange messages from a world layered on top of their own, August drops everything to help him fulfill a quest. While the structure necessarily, and sometimes to the detriment of the narrative, glides over a lot of background and character development, those missing moments largely serve to amp up the deeply unsettling nature of the boys' friendship e sexually charged relationship between August and Jack treads a fine line at the beginning, but it gradually grows into a more sinister power play made eerier by what's left out. Teen fans of moody psychological horror will be entranced.
Horn Book
When Jack begins having visions of a dangerous world where he is king, his best friend August comes to believe in them, too. The story of the boys' disturbingly intense codependency, quest to save Jack's kingdom, and eventual arrest and institutionalization unfolds in nonlinear micro-chapters interspersed with various mixed-media elements. The effect is appropriately disorienting (is Jack's world an alternate reality, or a hallucination?) but occasionally difficult to parse.
Kirkus Reviews
Love and friendship are severely tested by mental illness tinged with fantasy.August and Jack are the very definition of opposites attracting. Jack, a popular, golden-haired white varsity rugby player, seems to have a perfect life, while August is a poor kid of mixed race who runs drugs in their high school to make extra money. The boys are from opposite ends of the social spectrum, but their connection is deeper than friendship and more intense than the relationships either one has with members of the opposite sex. Their bromance, which enables both teens to survive parental neglect and absence, has a decidedly destructive bent that leads to their breaking into a toy factory together and also tattooing their names on each other. When Jack begins hallucinating, convinced that he sees into a parallel world in need of saving, August decides to believe him, charting a course that tests their friendship and their sanity. Ancrum's first novel, set in 2003, is an eerie piece of realistic fiction whose characters revel in intense emotions that will feel very authentic to high school teenagers. Their story is presented in extremely short chapters punctuated by pictorial elements such as arrest reports, snapshots, and maps. As the story proceeds, the pages darken until the final acts play out in white type on black. The fragmented style of the narrative keeps the action moving but undercuts character development, causing details about the main characters to be told to readers rather than shown. A haunting story that bravely explores friendship and mental illness. (Historical fiction. 14-18)
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-n intense and disturbing book that is reluctant readerfriendly flash fiction and packs a punch despite its brevity. August and Jack have been like brothers from the beginning: their mothers are best friends, and the boys were practically raised together. Jack, always the leader with a vivid imagination, brought the willing August into his world of make-believe where Jack was king and August his faithful knight. That relationship has endured into high school, where they rely on each other for the support their dysfunctional families can't provide. When Jack begins seeing images from an alternate reality intruding on his everyday life, August knows that his friend needs help. But August believes he owes Jack, who once saved him from drowning, and thinks this could be the opportunity to repay that life debt. Jack is adamant that, to escape his visions, he must complete a quest, but his last task depends on August's help. August is once again drawn into Jack's fantasy world, risking his life to do his friend's bidding. At first, their final blazing act of glory appears a successbut Jack's visions fail to vanish, and both of them are separated and imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital where August's mental stability may be more in question than Jack's. Like Libba Bray's Going Bovine, Ancrum delves into the blurry space between reality and madness. Short chapters are interspersed with artwork, photos, and scanned images. VERDICT A haunting and provocative read that will keep teens riveted. A strong choice for most YA shelves.Cary Frostick, formerly at Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA
Reading Level: 7.0
Interest Level: 9-12
Lexile: HL620L

Written in vivid micro-fiction with a stream-of-consciousness feel and multimedia elements, this psychological young thriller explores a codependent friendship fraught with madness, love, and darkness.

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