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The Dead Boys

The Dead Boys

4.8 14
by Royce Buckingham

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In the desert town of Richland, Washington, there stands a giant sycamore tree. Horribly mutated by nuclear waste, it feeds on the life energy of boys that it snags with its living roots. And when Teddy Matthews moves to town, the tree trains its sights on its next victim.

From the start, Teddy knows something is very wrong with Richland-every kid he meets


In the desert town of Richland, Washington, there stands a giant sycamore tree. Horribly mutated by nuclear waste, it feeds on the life energy of boys that it snags with its living roots. And when Teddy Matthews moves to town, the tree trains its sights on its next victim.

From the start, Teddy knows something is very wrong with Richland-every kid he meets disappears before his eyes. A trip to the cemetery confirms that these boys are actually dead and trying to lure him to the tree. But that knowledge is no help when Teddy is swept into the tree's world, a dark version of Richland from which there is no escape . . .

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Nancy Wallace
Twelve-year-old Teddy Matthews moves to Richland so his mom can work at a nuclear power plant. The arid desert is unappealing, and his neighborhood offers few companions his age. A massive sycamore looms over his house from the yard next door. While other plants struggle in the desert heat, the sycamore has an eerie strength and vitality. Teddy's forays into town leave him puzzled. Scenes and neighborhoods change from one visit to the next. He meets boys who seem oddly out of sync with the present. His visits to a trailer court and a cemetery lead to a startling realization: "I've been hanging out with dead kids." All the deaths seem to be linked to the tree, and Teddy fears he will be the next victim. When the sycamore makes its move, Teddy is armed with weed killer and a hatchet—he barely escapes alive. The plot is handled skillfully; tension builds as Teddy uncovers one clue after another. From the very beginning, the tree's malevolence is evident as its branches creep over the windowsill into Teddy's bedroom while he sleeps. The author doles out hints expertly, allowing the reader to be aware that Teddy is stepping back in time yet withholding the full explanation until the end. Teddy's battle to save himself and the other boys exposes him to everything he fears most, offering enough thrills and chills to keep readers up all night. An easy read, this is a great horror story for younger teens. Reviewer: Nancy Wallace
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—In this tightly plotted suspense novel, Teddy meets several other 12-year-old boys in his new town, but there's something eerie about each one. Eventually he realizes that every kid died years ago under mysterious circumstances and that he may be the next target. The evil force behind their demise is a sentient sycamore tree with powers derived from nuclear waste, a kind of wild premise that actually makes for an appropriately creepy villain. Some readers will spot the hints about the dead boys' situation, uncovering bits of the truth along with or just ahead of the protagonist, as the well-paced tale moves deftly from mystery into high action. Ultimately he must endure each of the gruesome dangers that killed the ghostly kids, including rattlesnakes, scorpions, and the thorny, twisting tree that's behind it all. There's a nice mixture of cliff-hanger escapes, mystery exposition, and lighter moments provided by Teddy's narration. Though the hero's personality is not especially complex, the empathy he shows for the boys and his resourcefulness in defying the killer tree make him someone to root for. The climactic battle is appropriately suspenseful, leading to a satisfying and surprising conclusion.—Steven Engelfried, Wilsonville Public Library, OR
Kirkus Reviews

This new thriller adds a unique villain--a tree--the roster of deadly supernatural foes. This particular tree has been mutated by nuclear waste from a nearby plant and has learned that sucking the life from 12-year-old boys is an efficient and tasty way to enhance its energy reserves. When Teddy and his mom move to an eastern Washington desert town, Teddy sets out to find new friends. He meets several boys who seem to be living in past decades, and he soon learns that they died many years ago. Worse, Teddy realizes that he's the next intended victim--but he falls for the tree's clever efforts to lure him into its clutching branches anyway. Buckingham keeps readers' pulses pounding as Teddy uses his courage and wits to escape. He depicts the boys with dialogue and clothing appropriate to their decades of origin, a device that works well to keep the story on the edge of believability. Teddy's character may appeal to many young readers; he feels plenty of fear but has defiant courage, too. An inventive premise that yields solid supernatural suspense. (Horror. 8-12)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
850L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Royce Buckingham lives in Bellingham, Washington, with his wife and sons.

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The Dead Boys 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best bnook ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This i a book for boys or girls i highly recomend it and its not that gorry for people who like the suspence and mystery
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book and I strongly recommend it. It has everything you could want in a good suspense/mystery story. The best part is that it's not gory at all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book very much. I cheaked it out of my library at school one time and I couldn't put it down!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book, but i dont wanna give it away ; )
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book one of my first books i own and i think it is great
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
I could feel the goosebumps while reading this book. Remember those moments as a child where you look out the window and the tree nearby looks eerie and even human-like? The Dead Boys takes this fear and adds a dream-like world on top of that. The horror elements in this book are supremely well done. The fear is real enough to feel, and the mystery is heightened as Teddy gets closer to solving the secret of the dead boys. These are important to enjoy a horror novel and I think the author does a good job in heightening those senses. It's a quick read, as the book isn't very long, but you'll find the story does capture your attention and you'll want to read this from start to finish in one sitting. What I thought was really neat was the illustration at each chapter featuring the tree and its' arm like branches reaching out towards the child. As the story progresses, you notice the branches getting longer (or shorter) depending on the plot. I thought that was a nice add on to the story and it was a subtle hint as to what is to come in the following chapter you're reading. I really liked that part of the novel it's certainly something you don't see in just any regular book. The ending was good although I expected a more 'horror-like'' ending. I think this is because perhaps the book is catered towards a younger age group. This book could be considered for middle grade children or young adults nevertheless I think it's a wonderful creepy story (a perfect read for those rainy windy days!) and regardless of age, everyone should give this one a try. Just make sure there's no tree near your window.
Stn More than 1 year ago
I really recommend people to read this book because it is very interesting especially since its about a single creepy tree that is basically mutated by nuclear waste. The tree needs to feed on energy from the boys that Teddy Matthews meets and finding out later that they are actually dead.He even also finds out that he is the next victim of the tree to feed its hunger .The book gets more and more fascinating it was hard for me to stop reading it.I could not wait to see what happens in the end of the book when I was reading this book. It is basically a must read book for people that like a easy read that is fascinating, supernatural, and creepy all at once.
Lawral More than 1 year ago
This book is pretty creepy. For me, the creepiness was compounded by the "about the author," which appears at the beginning of my ARC, telling a bit about Buckingham's childhood in Richland, downstream from a nuclear power plant and with a huge and gnarly sycamore tree in his back yard. If this ends up coming at the end of the published book, I think it'll add a little chill after everything is over and done with. Because I read it at the beginning, I kept thinking, "This is a real place!" even if the things happening in it are clearly fiction. Warped by toxic nuclear waste that was dumped into the river during the Manhattan project, the tree next to Teddy's house has decided that it no longer likes to draw it's energy from the sun and the water. It likes to suck energy from twelve-year-old boys. And it's been doing just that for decades. Teddy, new to town, is looking to meet new friends and runs into a few of the trees past victims. At first these boys seem a bit odd to him, but not so out of place that he doubts their existence. The bell bottoms and "wiseacre" sayings were a big tip-off to me that these kids were visiting from the past, but middle grade readers might, like Teddy, just think he's moved into a tiny town in the middle of nowhere and so a little behind the times. Teddy is slow to figure out what is really going on, but not so slow that I wanted to shake him. Near misses with the tree also kept the suspense at a high, distracting me from Teddy's sometimes sluggish sleuthing. By the time he gets it all sorted out, Teddy is either going to be the tree's next victim or the tree's downfall. In trying to save himself, he has to decide if he wants to/can also save the boys who have been trying to help the tree, the only kids he's met at all in Richland. Again, this was a creepy book. Those chapters about the tree breaking in to Teddy's window while he's sleeping are best not read right before bed. Surprising choices about loyalty and doing what is right verses doing what is best for you right now make The Dead Boys a slightly more substantial read than your average horror book. Book source: ARC picked up at ALA
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the best book that i have ever read and i cried after it nt get me wronge but these were tears of joy
EllzReadz More than 1 year ago
My thoughts...At 208 pages, this MG novel would be perfect for readers of all ages, especially young boys. This is one of those stories that make you leave the light on when you sleep and check under the bed. It was very entertaining and well written. The characters in The Dead Boys were very well written. Teddy, the new kid on the block ventures out to make some new friends. He quickly meets the town bully and his victim, and several other boys that are full of personality. They all seem very interested in Teddy and he quickly learns why. The story was very creepy and left me with chills on several occasions. The plot was very original and it was a fast paced read. This would make a perfect addition to a middle grade library. I will be watching for other titles by this author.