Books do not come with visual effects. They’re books, consisting of words on paper that take you away, make you think, laugh or care about something without leaving your space. The Song From Somewhere Else is a YA book; but it has a palpable sense of dread, mystery and growing up that creates a layer of fog that surrounds you whilst reading it. It’s important here not to confuse fog with a lack of direction. The book knows where it’s going; it just does a great job of keeping audiences guessing.
The Song From Somewhere Else plays out with fringe tastes of Atlas Shrugged, The Breakfast Club,The X-Files, The Ring and 3:00 High. If one were to look at the cover of the book they might think it’s about two kids watching fireworks. Don’t judge a book by its cover is a popular phrase for a reason.
Frank is a shy girl who’s having a bummer of a summer. Her cat has gone missing and she’s riding her bike around town putting up posters. Unfortunately the first place that she stops to place a poster is near Neil Noble, the school bully. He immediately starts taunting her, causing her to stutter which eggs on the bullies. In frenzy she runs away and is then discovered by Nicholas Underbridge, the class outcast. He’s big for his age, doesn’t fit into any group and is on the receiving end of the bully’s attention too.
The two manage to sneak way from the group to his house where the real mysteries start. Frank hears some music coming from someplace close, but can’t quite pin point where it’s coming from. Nicholas plays like he can’t hear it, but finally admits that it’s his dad’s, but Frank isn’t convinced.
The story takes place during a one-week period and each day ratchets up the tension and mystery. We won’t spoil anything in the book, but let’s just say that Nicholas and his family are not normal. They aren’t malicious, but they are not normal and the more people that realize this fact make things dangerous for them.
When reading The Song From Somewhere Else readers will immediately pay attention to the illustrations in the book by Levi Penfold. This is not a graphic novel, but there are illustrations or shading on every page. The effect adds to dread, mystery and story that happens in the book. Throughout the book the shading ebbs and flow, until the end when things are resolved and the pages return their normal color.
You know in horror films when the character comes down a flight of stairs and sees a figure with its back to them? Audiences aren’t sure if that being has ill intentions or is simply a lost soul. That is the feeling that The Song From Somewhere Else builds up to. On the way there we follow along as typical teens navigate life away from school. This book also has one of better-and effective examples of a bully that we’ve read in recent memory. The bullies in this book will remind you of kids that you used to know and leave readers hoping that they get what’s coming to them sooner than later.
This is a book that really exceeded what we initially thought it would be. Upper middle school students and up, who like to read suspenseful books will latch onto this book quickly. From the first dozen pages they’ll be sucked into this mysterious world and won’t be able to put it down.