Dread Locks (Dark Fusion Series #1)

Dread Locks (Dark Fusion Series #1)

4.4 21
by Neal Shusterman

Dread Locks is the first entry in the Dark Fusion series from master storyteller Neal Shusterman. He cleverly weaves together familiar parts of fairy tales and Greek mythology to tell the story of fourteen-year-old Parker Bear, rich and utterly bored with life—until a new girl arrives in town. Tara's eyes are always hidden behind designer sunglasses, and her


Dread Locks is the first entry in the Dark Fusion series from master storyteller Neal Shusterman. He cleverly weaves together familiar parts of fairy tales and Greek mythology to tell the story of fourteen-year-old Parker Bear, rich and utterly bored with life—until a new girl arrives in town. Tara's eyes are always hidden behind designer sunglasses, and her hair, blond with glimmering spirals, seems almost alive. Parker watches, fascinated, as one by one Tara chooses high school students to befriend; he even helps her by making the necessary introductions. Over time, her “friends” develop strange quirks, such as drinking gallons of milk, eating dirt, and becoming lethargic. By the time Parker realizes what Tara is doing, he is too embroiled to stop her. In fact, she has endowed him with certain cravings of his own. . . .To say more would spoil the spooky fun of this wild thriller—let the twist speak for itself and leave you still as a statue.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Hang on tightly to your Brothers Grimm! Goldilocks morphs into Medusa—the hip teen variety—in Neal Shusterman's latest addition to his "Dark Fusion" series of updated fairytales. On his fifteenth birthday, Parker (aka "Baby Baer") finds his new neighbor Tara sleeping in his bed. After also wrecking the calibrations on his father's ergonomic chair and eating his little sister's favorite cereal, the connection is obvious— too bad this Goldilocks's tresses are closer to writhing snakes. With the aplomb of a teenage goddess, Tara soon takes over Parker and his private school. When kids begin turning into statues, Parker has to take a stand. Shusterman has a gothic-quirky, Stephen Kingish-sort of mindset that he lets loose with glee. He delivers, too, creating genuine chills up the spine for all those young readers who cut their eye-teeth on R.L. Stine. 2005, Dutton Children's Books, Ages 10 to 14.
—Kathleen Karr
A modern day telling of the medusa myth, this fantasy thriller is sure to engage readers and leave them with an unfamiliar, unforeseen ending. As the protagonist Parker Baer dredges through upper class suburban life, he meets a mysterious new neighbor—Tara—in his bedroom, uninvited, one afternoon. The two become fast friends, but something doesn't add up for Parker. Several people who have come in contact with Tara seem to be dying as noted by their pale, almost gray, complexions and physical rigidity. Parker begins a detective style search for the truth but is he too late? Readers from seventh grade and up will happily read this page-turning book and make connections to the medusa myth and common fairytales. 2005, Penguin Putnam, 176 pp., Ages young adult.
—Chris Goering
A spoiled-rotten 14-year-old named Parker Baer (bear, get it?) finds his life changed forever when a mysterious new neighbor shows up in his bed (even though he's not in it at the time). Tara has strange blond curls and always wears mirrored sunglasses, and Parker finds that he is irresistibly drawn to her, even when he realizes that she just toys with people—and worse. He becomes her lackey and introduces people at their fancy private school to her, and then watches them develop strange cravings and grayish skin tones, then slowly become petrified and die. Parker sees the upside, of course, as Tara is a great weapon to turn on his enemies. But when his brother and sister become her victims, and he realizes that he himself is becoming a monster like Tara, Parker knows that he must stop her. But how, and what must he sacrifice? This updated melding of the tales of "Goldilocks" and Medusa, from the author of many other novels for YAs in various genres, is a fast-moving, spine-chilling story that horror and fantasy lovers will relish. Upcoming titles in Shusterman's new Dark Fusion series include Red Rider's Hood and Duckling Ugly. (Dark Fusion). KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2005, Penguin, Dutton, 176p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Shusterman brings a new and unique perspective to the old Medusa story. Parker Baer, 14, has plenty of material possessions but is bored. Then Tara, with her spirals of golden hair and dark sunglasses, moves in next door. Within a short time, Parker's family and friends are sick and behaving strangely. When Tara takes him on a death ride that takes them over a cliff and neither is injured, the horror of her power becomes clear to him. As the situation becomes grimmer, the teen is forced to confront her with bone-chilling, spine-tingling results. Exotic and strange Tara keeps readers on the edge of their seats with her unconventional behavior and unusual perspective on everyday life. The plot twists and turns move the story toward an unexpected end. In a horrifying climax, Shusterman delivers the moral of the tale, unusual in itself, for most books of this genre rarely deliver a message so powerfully. However, it is the gross-out factor that readers will remember. Eating kitty litter with milk, statues with fingerprints, and other unexplained (until the very end) behaviors will keep readers turning the pages even as they shudder to think what will come next. The book's front cover will attract teens, and the title perfectly fits the story. A good addition for those libraries with horror lovers who have moved on from R.L. Stine's "Fear Street" series (S & S).-Molly S. Kinney, Nova Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale, FL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Goldilocks and the Three Bears doesn't blend well with the story of Medusa, but suspense keeps this thriller going until the end. Ultra-rich Parker Baer has everything he could ever want, except an escape from ennui. Perhaps new neighbor Tara will provide some excitement. Tara Herpecheveux, whose head is covered with glowing, golden, dreadlock-like curls of hair, wants Parker to introduce her to kids all over school. Oddly, the students who are granted Tara's attention become lethargic, gray and apathetic. Tara seems to be sucking the life from them, even while she grants new energy and charisma-and curls of hair like her own-to Parker. Parker's new snakelike coiffure gives him power, but also gives him a terrible vampiric hunger for human life. Though there's nothing appealing about the thoroughly flat characters, the tension-filled climax puts a fascinating twist on the traditional way to defeat a gorgon. (Fantasy. 11-14)

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Dark Fusion Series , #1
Product dimensions:
5.68(w) x 8.52(h) x 0.75(d)
710L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Neal Shusterman is an award-winning author and screenwriter.  He lives in Southern California with his four children.

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Dread Locks (Dark Fusion Series #1) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is mostly about a boy that becomes friends with this girl and the girls name is tara. She hides her eyes behind sunglasses and when she takes them off, the person that she is staring at becomes pale and craves many things like milk,dirt, and becoming sleepy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Neal Shusterman's new DARK FUSION Series, the author takes myths, legends, and fairy tales, mixes them up with modern-day tales of teen angst and horror, and comes up with an entertaining read. In DREAD LOCKS, we get a whole stew pot full of retold stories--GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS, MEDUSA, KING MIDAS. They're all there, and the finished product is a quick, fun, and sometimes depressing read. Parker Baer is the type of fifteen-year old I both love and hate. He's always been given everything he's ever wanted, due to the fact that his parents are wealthy. He has an obnoxious older brother, Garrett, and an irritable little sister, Katrina. For his birthday, his brother bought him a motocross bike, and his parents gave him a statue. Yes, the teenaged Parker is now memorialized in bronze. Then Parker meets his new next-door neighbor, Tara Herpecheveux, in the most surprising way--she's sleeping in his bed. But Tara's strangeness, and undeniable attractability, is a hodge-podge of attributes--she's exotically beautiful, has the strangest blond dread locks, always wears mirrored sunglasses, and has an aversion to the belief of personal property. As Parker gets more and more entangled in the strangeness that is Tara, he begins to notice the ever-increasing weird behavior of the students in his school. Odd cravings, incessantly strange behavior, and a general weirdness pervade the halls of the private school for the rich. Once Parker finally accepts the truth of what's happening, it's too late. The ending, although slightly predictable in some ways, was a surprise overall. It left me feeling sad, but then again, most fairy tales have one or more tear-inducing scenes in them. DREAD LOCKS is an interesting retelling of some notable myths, and if you're into horror stories, this one should definitely do the trick!