2 out of 4 stars
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I rate The Follower by L. Hillis as 2 out of 4 stars. The story is well written and I found only a few typos.The order of the story is strong, but there are a few verb tenses that change, slowing the reader down as they puzzle out the timeline. This is a short story so the action changes quickly, but I think the story could have been developed much more, preventing the choppy feeling and adding to the character’s depth. Every chapter was short, which helps move the action along. However, more details of the current scene and/or more fleshing out the background information would be beneficial. That being said, the story made sense and the characters were believable.
The story begins with the main character, Jessica, meeting her boyfriend outside their college class. She doesn’t love him but she likes him. That quickly changes at her dorm room when he assaults her. This leads us to meet her best friends as she struggles to tell them what happened. These two best friends, Ashley and Stephanie, as well as Jessica’s mom, dad, and baby sister, Katelyn, provide Jessica a solid foundation of support and love. Soon she expands that foundation with a new crush. It’s interesting that the first boyfriend is important to the story but doesn’t seem to return. This is completely realistic as we read, but leads the reader to wonder if he and “the follower” later in the story are the same person.
When Jessica meets the second guy, Josh, and is instantly as interested in him as he is with her. They go on a date and everything seems normal except for a “follower”. That follower is clearly jealous of how well Josh and Jessica get along, especially as they are intimate. Then, while Josh and Jessica are finishing their date, the follower grabs an unknown woman and murders her. A few days later another murder, but apparently it’s not big news. Then in a rush of action, this follower almost snatches Ashley. It’s unclear if he is working alone or with another. The tension mounts and the action rushes on.
Blood is introduced through a quick nip in a very hot kiss. Then as part of the slashing murder, but it is still surprising to learn a main character is a vampire. However, the characters have such a bond that it is pretty quickly accepted, and so the reader does as well. We have some suspicions about the follower, but the final details are a bit of a surprise.
There is not gratuitous sexual detail, nor extremely graphic violence. The language is actually very tame. Religious notes are almost non-existent. While I would not stock this story in a middle school classroom, I would find it acceptable reading for a mature middle schooler and most high schoolers. This is not YA fantasy, but being so short it could be handled by many teenagers. The love story is more applicable to young readers than a more mature audience. I think this short story stands alone, but could be turned into a very interesting novel should the author be interested in such an undertaking of expansion.
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