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Reviewed by Debjani Ghosh for Readers' Favorite
Two seventeen-year-old teenagers, Beck and Dean, more like brothers than friends, want to run away from their small town of Clatskanie, Oregon. Defiant and reckless Beck wants to escape from the tortuous stranglehold of his abusive stepfather. For years, a world of his own has been his only refuge from the abuse. One day he discovers his deceased grandfather’s ramshackle cabin deep in the woods and convinces Dean to help him repair it. Dean, who is still recovering from a failed suicide attempt, agrees to help Beck. He just wants to lead his life quietly. However, an unplanned pregnancy and threats from his former gang, the Howlers, hardly let him do so. Little by little, Dean’s actions and Beck’s shaky grip on reality propel both into the thick of things. Can they come out of it unscathed, or will it scar their lives forever? Read Sons of Slaughter by Brian McBride to find out.
Brian McBride’s Sons of Slaughter deals with heavy themes - mental illness, child abuse, and teen pregnancy. So, readers should be cautious while picking up this book. The vivid prose is the most striking quality of this book. Further, it is atmospheric. McBride deftly creates a claustrophobic environment mimicking the mental struggles of his characters. From the first page till the last, he doesn’t lose his grip on the haunting yet beautiful prose. Pure, raw emotion bleeds through the pages. It’s difficult to side with any one character here. The novel is told from the perspectives of both Beck and Dean. The story has all the ingredients to appeal to a young adult audience—out and out rogues as villains, romance, unbridled passion, and anger (lots of it)—and the sensitive way in which the complex themes have been dealt with will surely appeal to a mature audience. I recommend Sons of Slaughter to readers seeking a young adult psychological thriller.