Tag-Team Review: The Night Screams by Devon McCormack

Running naked through the woods, Cal flees the sadistic man who abducted and tortured him. When he stumbles upon a convenience store, he breaks in to steal food. A young store clerk, Jake, confronts him, and they get into a fight that ends with Cal being knocked unconscious. He wakes in the home of Jake’s Uncle Gary, the owner of the convenience store. Realizing Cal needs help, Gary tries to communicate with him, but despite Cal’s efforts, he can’t bring himself to speak. Instead, he writes down his experiences. Horrified by the perverse cruelty Cal endured, Gary takes him to the police, who track down his tormentor.

Abandoned by his parents before his abduction, Cal doesn’t have anywhere to go, so Gary and his wife eagerly welcome him into their home. He feels fortunate to be with such caring people—something he’s never had before. Despite their help, he still can’t find his voice, and he wonders if he ever will. And Jake certainly isn’t making things any easier. It’s clear he doesn’t want Cal to be part of their family. But the more Cal gets to know him, the more he realizes Jake might be the very person who can heal the deep wounds left by his horrifying past.

Sheziss - 2 Hearts

I wanted to read this because I hadn’t read anything of this author before. And for the first 25%, everything was fine. More than fine, really. But then all hell broke loose.

The blurb is quite revealing. In fact, it seems everything is told there. In truth, all of that happens during the first 25%. From then on, the book seems to go nowhere. I mean, there wasn’t a definite plot-line in which the story was developed. It was a chain of events with no evident purpose.

The first quarter of the novel was very agile and compelling. I grant that. It grabbed my attention and didn’t let me go. Cal runs from the place where he had been kidnapped and tortured and gets into a store, Jake’s Uncle’s store. They welcome him home and the police find the criminal and kill him when he attempts to resist.

This loving marriage formed by Gary and Luce, who receive him with open arms, finds no legal obstacles to “adopt” him, and they do it very quickly at that. I had to suspend disbelief at this stage of things. They know nothing of Cal but they love him as a son as soon as he crosses the door. The only one who seems reluctant is Jake, their nephew, who also lives with them.

But it only lasted a short while.

There is no real character development.

It’s hard for me to come to terms with stories like this: the teenager who lives through a traumatic experience and suddenly he gets to meet this perfect prince in shining armor who is so patient and handsome and upright. Usually, this situation gives me a sense of implausibility. And this is no exception.

From Cal’s part, his abduction and trauma are forgotten very easily, he overcomes it and has a normal life. Oh, yeah, he lost his voice and can’t speak for a few weeks, but then he finds it, and he looks like a normal person again. Oh, yeah, he goes to therapy once or twice, but then he cancels the appointments and no one is the wiser. He’s not scared of people, he’s not scared of being touched, he trust everybody and has no problem doing it, no inner conflicts, and no inherent fears. There are a few seconds in which there could be a reminiscence of his experience, but it’s forgotten in the next scene.

From Jake’s part, he soon declares his love for Cal, and he even asks him to marry him. Things were happening so fast and with no depth at all, so I couldn’t find any of this believable at all. Jake is so perfect, he is the ideal boyfriend who promises to protect Cal from everything and he doesn’t care what anybody says about him. He had metal skin in order to ignore the outside world and all its challenges. He’s so hot, he’s not in any sports team, but he’s a math genius who somehow managed to develop a bulging biceps even when resting. He even ends up with a full 5-o’clock at the end of the day, for God’s sake. Yes, I’m aware there are people in high school who have an impressive full beard already. Yes, it’s quite possible, I don’t deny it. But this description fits a 20-something guy rather than a 18-year-old one. This only added to an already incredible situation.

They don’t feel like teens. They are supposed to be 17-18 years old, but they felt they were 10 years older each. So mature attitudes, so confident behaviours, so hot bodies. After a few days being together (I mean, being official boyfriends), they already know the other one is their everything and that they want to spend their whole life together.

Just no. I couldn’t buy it, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t.

And what happens next is hard to accept, too.

Misfortunes, one after the other.

Spoilerish: There is the prom dance date scene, the health issues with Jake’s uncle and aunt, the bigotry of the town, Jake’s decision to flee with Cal and live together elsewhere (whoa, stop there, Jake! Take is easy!), Jake’s jealous ex incident, the marriage episode (life is short but your love story is not that profound, guys!), and if that wasn’t enough, the kidnapper appears at the very end of the book, when he was supposed to be dead.

It’s too much.

Too many things in such a short notice, and all of them are so dramatic and unusual that it sounded like a Greek tragedy rather than a story about two teens being together and growing up together.

The aspect I liked the most were Jake’s friends. I could feel Mallory and Keith and Blake behaving like normal youths, and follow their adventures with a real interest. They were more believable than the main characters, and that is very sad. I also liked Gary a lot, and Luce, despite all. They were very well defined, very well developed.

But everything else? It got out of hand fast.

It was a miss for me.

Lorix - 2.5 Hearts

It kinda breaks my heart a little but this story just did not work for me, and I so wanted it to. Really my feelings reflect much of what Sheziss has just said, so I won't rehash. I liked the potential of the story so much, the execution was just not right (for me) though. I think the strength of the plot was in the initial traumatic incident; this started so well, Cal couldn't speak he was dealing with rejection and abuse the best way he knew how and... well, there was a wealth of storyline that could have been used there. Instead it turned into a bit of a soap opera with one disaster after another. It just wasn't what I was expecting it to be and sometimes the disappointment of expectations not met can really skew the rating for me. Is this the writers fault? No, not really, the author can't know, or write, to my expectations. I think if the last three quarters of the book were erased and the initial story developed further it would have felt as though it had more depth.


One area I do disagree with Sheziss - or my opinion differs, is a better way of saying it - is the wedding. Yeah, it got a bit dramatic, but the actual wedding. I know we're supposed to think that 18 year olds can't know their true feelings etc etc but I do think that some couples genuinely do know at that age. I liked this turn in the storyline, I wouldn't want it in every book I read, but I do like it. I know at least two couples who have been together since their mid teens. Both had children by the time they were eighteen and both are still together. More importantly they are very much in love still. One couple are nearing their 60's and the other (my sister and her husband) are the most sickly in love couple twenty plus years later. So I can, and do, believe it is possible to know forever love at eighteen!!

Though this book didn't work for me, I wouldn't say it wouldn't work for everyone; it could simply be the case of me not being the target audience... my teen years were longer ago than I care to remember! 2.5 is the right rating for my feelings, but it's always worth checking out other reviews with differing opinions.

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