Temptation (Solitary Tales Series #3)by Travis Thrasher
The third book in the Solitary Tales series for young adults, Temptation follows the soul wrenching twists of Chris Buckley's journey as he heads deeper into a darkness that threatens all he loves most. As a reluctant student at Harrington High's summer school, Chris meets a fun-loving senior girl who offers a welcome diversion from Chris's past. Soon Chris no… See more details below
The third book in the Solitary Tales series for young adults, Temptation follows the soul wrenching twists of Chris Buckley's journey as he heads deeper into a darkness that threatens all he loves most. As a reluctant student at Harrington High's summer school, Chris meets a fun-loving senior girl who offers a welcome diversion from Chris's past. Soon Chris no longer searches for the truth about the town of Solitary. He no longer tries to pierce its shadows. He no longer questions his role in its mysteries. He makes a new choice: he runs. What he doesn't realize is that he's running the wrong wayand is very close to being beyond any choices at all.
"In the third installment in Thrasher's Solitary Tales, Chris Buckley, who is originally from Chicago, moves with his mom to Solitary, North Carolina. Narrator Kirby Heyborne presents diverse characters and a range of emotions while keeping the story fast paced and compelling. He particularly succeeds in conveying the many viewpoints Chris confronts as he faces temptation and makes difficult decisions, especially when the line between good and evil is not fully apparent. Adding to the story is Chris and Lily's romance, which is sweet yet believable."
S.G.B. © AudioFile Portland, Maine
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By TRAVIS THRASHER
David C. CookCopyright © 2012 Thrasher, Travis
All rights reserved.
It's June, and there's a guy—a kid—a boy stuck in a ditch that's called his life.
Stuck in summer school.
Stuck without a license. Without a job. Without friends.
Stuck in a town he hates and fears. Stuck in a family that's leftover parts, with a mother who only has leftover love to give.
Surrounded on all sides by those who claim they know him, who claim there's something about him, who claim this and that. Threatened and watched by unseen strangers.
A boy still haunted by memories of a girl he once knew.
A boy still haunted by memories of all the things he could have done.
There's a teen who's supposed to be playing the next track on the next album but instead is stuck repeating the same sad, endless song that keeps going around and around the turntable.
Yeah, there's that guy. That poor, miserable guy.
But that guy's not me.CHAPTER 2
Made for You
The front door used to frighten me. Now it frees me.
I swing it open, daring them to seize me. I walk downstairs, daring them to trip me. I know someone watches me, but only God knows why. But we know where things stand between me and God, don't we, so let's not go there.
I'm done going there.
I should be tired of not having a license and not having a car, but I'm not. Instead, I'm breaking the law on a Triumph motorcycle as I start it up and get on out.
I'm not afraid.
Yes you are.
I'm not plagued by the last eight months.
The faster I rev this machine and turn the corners, the more unbound I feel. I can almost, almost, really almost escape.
But I can and do, and soon even those nagging stupid swirling thoughts inside my head go away.
Just like that.
I don't hear them anymore.
But I do see the road ahead, and for once I'm happy. I'm a happy boy. I'm not running for my life and I'm not covered in blood and I'm not seeing ghosts and I'm not crying.
Nope. I'm happy.
I'm happy because the sun is shining. School is over, and I don't have to feel like a sore thumb sticking out. I can't sleep in like Mom does because I've got summer school, but that's fine. It just means I can avoid finding a job since my last one burned down. I can avoid thinking about all that, and you know what? The wind and the whipping streets all make it go far away.
It's been a few weeks since graduation, and it's gone away.
This is the fifth day back at the dump I'd gotten away from, but I'm a different person.
I am different from the guy who climbed the steps of the school last October and proceeded to slowly waste away with worry.
I pull my bike up in the parking lot and get off.
I'm riding a bike. I mean—come on.
It's a new day.
The first day of the rest of your life.
So I've been telling myself over and over and over.
It's a Friday, and the weekend is almost here. A weekend that no longer frightens me.
I'd take off my helmet, but I didn't wear a helmet because that's how I roll.
You don't roll anyplace.
"Shut up," I say.
Then I look around to make sure nobody saw me talking to ...
Guess some things never change.CHAPTER 3
The Breakfast Club
The beautiful thing about being here at Harrington High is that nobody else is there to taunt or watch or mock or spy. This is the first of my two three-week summer school sessions. Nothing like spending most of the summer at the school I desperately wanted to get away from. But after a week of this, everything has changed. The dark, creepy cobwebs have been cleaned up. Now everything is actually ...
The weeks since graduation—since everything happened with Pastor Marsh—have been awesome because I've gotten used to not doing anything. Not hearing anything going BOO in the middle of the night. Not having to deal with any craziness. Just living day after day as a normal teen. Learning how to start and ride the motorcycle that an elderly woman named Iris left me, the one that belonged to Uncle Robert when he used to work for her at the Crag's Inn. No Iris or missing uncle has been spotted, which is okay.
It's all okay.
I've come to realize that whatever the reason my teachers decided to fail me (well, not my French teacher, because I deserved that F, but my English and algebra teachers), it doesn't really matter anymore because this is a glorified recess. Summer school is like a study hall minus the studying and the students.
So far, I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to be doing and how I'm supposed to be graded, but then again, it's a new day, and it's a new Chris.
There are reasons for that.
One in particular.
I'm among the first to get to the class today. I take my regular seat, a second chair from the back row. Since the first day, we've all sat in the same seats, all seven of us. Thankfully there's no Gus. That was my big fear. But I remembered who his father was and bet that he probably wouldn't have to spend his summer mornings at school regardless of his grades.
There weren't any formal introductions to the kids in the class. There were only two I actually recognized. One who terrified me a bit until he started amusing me.
And then ...
Well, I'll get to that in a minute.
Gin is in the back row, her monstrous black glasses and straight falling black hair hiding her face. I honestly don't know yet if Gin can speak English. Or if her name is Gin or Jen or Ginny. Her last name is Chang or Wang or something like that. The teacher said it quickly the first day, and that's been that. I'm not sure if she's Chinese or Japanese and whether this is all one big blur to her. Someone said they thought she was a freshman.
So yeah, all I know is that she wears big glasses.
The pudgy short kid with the red curly 'fro is Shawn. He's a junior, and he's just—Shawn. He's that kid. The one everybody knows, nobody really loves, but everybody loves to not love. He makes you laugh, but he says the most outrageous stuff. You wonder what he'll be doing when he grows up. Here in school, he can be dumb and say crazy things, but there's no telling what the guy will do when he gets out of here.
"Christopher," he says to me in a Russian-sounding accent.
No connection to anything. Probably some random thing going off in his head.
Shawn sits in front of me, which is fine because that way I can avoid Mr. Taggart. Mr. Taggart is the last one to show up every day. Usually he stumbles in looking like he went to the same party my mother went to the night before. He's mostly bald, with a nice thick mustache that looks two decades out of place and a nice thick belly that looks two belt sizes out of shape. They say he used to be the coach of the football team.
These are things I hear mentioned casually. Like Gin being a freshman.
The next to come in is the movie-star wannabe. Roger struts into the classroom as if it's a red carpet and the paparazzi are out in full force. He smiles a crystal smile that shows through the airbrushed beard he's got going on. I still haven't quite figured out how he can cut it that short, so short it looks like shoe polish. His hair slants forward and upward in a faux-hawk style.
Guy has to use a lot of gel to get his hair to do that.
He fist-bumps Shawn, who idolizes the guy for some reason.
Roger is a senior who needs this summer class to graduate. He says he's going to the University of Southern California. I don't know whether to believe him or not.
But at least he's not telling you he's your cousin. That didn't turn out so well, did it?
"How're we gonna kill three hours today?" Roger says to me.
Roger's one of those kids who doesn't really talk with you. He talks at you. I shrug, because he's not really looking for an answer.
He looks at the quiet figure in the back. "Hey, Gin."
Roger's not a bad guy. He's just a politician. A politician or a
Don't say it
Something about both of those professions makes me skeptical.
I'm waiting in my chair, waiting for the moment that made me get out of bed and get on that motorcycle and rush here.
Soon it arrives.
Harris comes in first, the bright-eyed smiling guy who looks like Will Smith's clone from his television days. As usual, Harris is dressed like a preppy. He's laughing at something. He looks behind him, and yes, there she comes.
Lily walks into the room, and suddenly it shifts like one of those houses at an amusement park. Everybody watches her. I can't see Gin, but I'm sure she's looking at the golden-haired beauty too.
Good morning, Lily.
This is what I say in my mind. I don't say it out loud because—well, Lily and I have had two conversations. Just two. And they've been the throwaway kind, not the get-to-know-you-better kind. The kind where she says something, I say something stupid in response, and then she just looks at me with pity.
As usual, just as she did on her first day, Lily takes the seat over to the right of the room, right across from Harris. They're best buddies, of course.
Today she's wearing an Atlanta Falcons jersey and small shorts that almost don't show, since the jersey's so long. Lily is tall and athletic, and her legs show it.
A part of me sighs, and another part tries to look cool.
It's easier to look cool riding a bike than sitting in this rigid seat.
I glance over and see those perfect lips widen into a smile as she says something to Harris. Oh, I'd like to hate him, but I can't. Harris is possibly one of the nicest guys I've ever met. And he's just like the rest of us—pretty much smitten with the new girl.
That's all I know about Lily. She's the new girl. She looks twenty-five but will be a senior next year. Her hair is curly and wild, as if she just skydived before coming to class.
There's something about being in this room with her that makes me feel alive.
Yes, maybe I should've learned some things from my track record with girls. But—it's not like there's anything happening here. It's just a beautiful girl who doesn't really know me who happens to go to Harrington High....
Stop me if you think you've heard this one before.
That's a song I just heard the other day. Kinda fits.
I stop thinking of this when Brick walks into the room. He looks like he's trying to mimic Clint Eastwood's character in those spaghetti Westerns, except Brick isn't wearing a gun (that I can see anyway). He's in a leather vest and a white T-shirt, and his hair is about the same length as Roger's beard.
He first looks at Lily, then grins and winks at her. "My little flower."
She laughs. "Good morning, Brick."
He eyes the rest of us in a sinister way.
He did this the first day, and I thought, Oh great, here we go again. A skinhead Gus. But after a couple of days I realized that Brick just looks mean. Yes, he's a skinhead, and yes, he doesn't like authority. But I'm not an authority on anything, so he's grown to like me.
So much so that he now sits across from me and usually will talk to me throughout the class. Mr. Taggart stopped telling Brick to quit talking, since it never has any effect.
Brick messes up my already messy hair and nods at me. "Miss me?"
"Like the plague."
He laughs. This is probably why he likes me. He thinks I've got a funny, quirky sense of humor. He told me so. The third day, after hearing some of my comments, he just examined me with squinting eyes. Then he said, "You're kinda funny, Buckley."
Shawn told me the story of how Brick got his name. Turns out he literally threw a brick through the glass doors lining the front of Harrington High when he was only a sophomore. It was after hours, and he was coming to get something that Principal Harking had taken from him and left in her office.
Obviously that got him a nice suspension, along with a visit from the cops and a fine.
Not that the cops do anything around here. Just saying.
Brick proceeds to tell me again why I need to sell him my motorcycle. Something about it being worth a ton and about an actor named Steve McQueen. I nod as if I'm paying attention, but really I'm just wanting to look over at the blonde who's not paying either of us attention.
Soon Mr. Taggart stumbles in, looking lost and disinterested. He's got a bit of stuff to hand out—some reading material and a quiz related to it. Stuff that would take a monkey about half an hour to do. We have three hours.
"And if you finish it, just start—I don't know, do something."
That's our summer school teacher. Dazed and confused and saying things like do something.
I'm wondering if we'll see Mr. Taggart nod off today. We like taking bets to see if and when he will.
My guess is that his weekend has already started, and that mentally he's a long, long way from this classroom.
Surrounded by these strangers who are quickly becoming not strangers anymore, I strangely find myself at home.
For the first time since coming to good ole Solitary.CHAPTER 4
Middle of the morning, we have a fifteen-minute break where kids can go check all their social sites on their phones (as if they weren't already doing that for the last hour and a half), or go to the restroom, or go smoke if you're Brick. He offers me a cigarette every time he's ready to go. I always politely decline.
There's this crazy hope that I'm going to somehow find myself talking to the golden-haired goddess. Then again, I know I'd sorta stammer and say something stupid like the last couple of times we've talked.
After coming out of the restroom, I see her leaning against the wall while Harris, Roger, and Shawn circle her.
There's really no room for someone else. What's that called?
I walk slowly and hear Roger talking about some party. Suddenly it's my junior year again.
Seven people, and I'm still on the outs.
"You should come. Meet some more of the wonderful people who go to this school."
Shawn laughs, says something. I'm almost past them when I hear Roger say, "You can come too, Harris. Hey—Chris—you, too."
I stop and give my best Oh you guys are talking about something 'cause you know I'm so cool I didn't notice.
Lily glances at me, and the glance stays for a moment. She smiles.
No, I take it back. She's amused. She finds this—probably all of this—comical.
"Go where?" I ask.
"Big party Saturday night," Roger says. "Del's having it. His parents are gone, and they don't care anyway."
"I'll only go if Harris goes," Lily says. "Wanna be my date?"
I think all of us want to be your date.
Harris, of course, looks blown away. If he was as pale as me, perhaps he'd be blushing, but he just beams and acts like his day has been made.
It's funny, because Roger runs in different circles from the other popular senior I got to know. Ray didn't talk much about him. But I know Roger normally wouldn't invite people like Harris and me to his party. It's because Lily is standing there. He's finally figured out a way to get her to come.
We talk and laugh and then see Mr. Taggart walking past us in the hallway. He stops and looks over at us, his droopy eyes looking tired and sad.
"Don't ever have kids, I'm tellin' you straight," he says, then keeps walking.
We wait until he's in the room before bursting out laughing. It's funny.
I follow the gang into the room before remembering I left my notebook in the bathroom.
I jog back down the hallway.
The lights are on in the school, and it strangely feels like it's just the start of a regular day.
I slow down before getting to the restroom.
I slow down, and I remember.
"Good. We'll take you. You fit with us. Plus ... you're cute."
That meeting in the hallway with the three girls. Jocelyn, Rachel, and Poe.
All gone in one way or the other.
I shut my eyes as if that can shut out thoughts. But memories are hard to keep contained.
"Don't say anything. Okay? Not now. Just wait for later."
Jocelyn's words after she found the note that I wrote but probably never intended to give her. Her words in these very same hallways.
Excerpted from TEMPTATION by TRAVIS THRASHER. Copyright © 2012 Thrasher, Travis. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Travis Thrasher is the author of more than a dozen works of fiction, including Solitary, Gravestone, Isolation and Ghostwriter. His writing is known for its honesty, depth, and surprising twists. Thrasher lives with his wife and daughters in Chicago.
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QUICK HIT – In the third book in The Solitary Tales, Chris Buckley has reached his breaking point. I wouldn’t want to actually be in Chris Buckley’s shoes, but being able to step into them through Thrasher’s art of story has been an entertaining and thought-provoking experience I won’t soon forget. Chris Buckley needs answers but he also needs his sanity. Given the events of Solitary and Gravestone, those two things just might be mutually exclusive. Ever since Chris and his mom moved to the supposedly sleepy town of Solitary, strange things have been happening. Well, that’s an understatement. More like Chris finds himself caught up in a town that acts like nothing is wrong while covering up blatant murder, occult activity, a beyond weird pastor, a mysterious past, and something to do with mannequins. Something demonic is going down in Solitary and somehow Chris is tied to it. In Temptation, Chris decides he simply cannot take the fight anymore and gives up. Let evil continue. He can’t stop it. He should be able to enjoy his last year in high school as much as possible and then just get out, leave, call it quits. Never speak of Solitary again. Or Jocelyn. Or Poe. Or Kelsey. If he can’t uncover the truth, he’ll run from the carnage it brings. Only he’s running the wrong direction. But it’s in running that Chris begins to find some answers—maybe. The pastor, Jeremiah Marsh, seems intent on revealing more of his secrets to Chris. Solitary’s tie to Chris’s ancestry is revealed. Questions Chris longed to have answered now seem to find him. Running away turns out to be not an option, because whatever evil there is in the town needs him. He can fight or give up but he can’t not play the game. Temptation is a battle for Chris Buckley’s soul. And by the time he realizes it, it just might be too late. After two novels of many questions and few answers, Thrasher pulls back the veil to give readers just enough answers to keep us guessing and begging for more. Chris’s desire to just be normal (and not like some character in a YA novel, he comments wryly at one point) is one of the cardinal desires of young adults—or anyone—trying to find their place in the world. Travis does a great job of diving into Chris’s character and making readers empathize with his plight. Not the plight of death and horror in Solitary, but the plight of death and horror in Chris Buckley’s soul. Temptation is about a kid who reaches the end of himself—and rightfully so, given what we know of his story—and finds that it’s only then that can he make the decision of who he is going to be. Thrasher writes in such a way that Chris’s journey becomes our own and we find ourselves sucked into the story and unable to escape. And just like its predecessors, Temptation left me wanting so much more all while feeling satisfied at what had been revealed. With one book remaining to put the pieces together, Thrasher is settling in to close out what has been an awesome series. I wouldn’t want to actually be in Chris Buckley’s shoes, but being able to step into them through Thrasher’s art of story has been an entertaining and thought-provoking experience I won’t soon forget.
Temptation, Travis Thrasher’s third volume in the “The Solitary Tales” tetralogy, has arrived and with it readers begin to get the answers to the important questions that series protagonist Chris Buckley has been asking since he discovered that things aren’t quite right in Solitary, North Carolina. In some ways 16- (and later 17-) year-old Chris Buckley is a rat trapped in a maze he didn’t create. As he searches for answers, he keeps running into dead ends. But when the answers are given and he finds himself closer to having the truth set him free, the light of that truth is blinding. Thrasher knows how to build the suspense to great heights before he begins revealing the tidbits that keep Chris—and the reader—searching for answers. Pastor Jeremiah Marsh continues to be a creepy presence in the series and serves as Chris’ seducer, tempting Chris to take on a mysterious role in Solitary. As the manipulation of his life continues, Chris finds himself alone and with no place to turn for help. Readers are finally introduced to Chris’ dad and Chris realizes that the reality of what went on between his parents is different from what he believes. Mr. Buckley’s arrival in Solitary comes at a crucial point in Chris’ journey to uncover the town’s secrets, and a conversation with his dad allows Chris to make an important decision leading to end of this book. Temptation delivers enough chills to satisfy readers of supernatural suspense and will remind Christians that we are indeed fighting a spiritual battle. Thrasher chooses to end the book at a turning point for Chris, with Chris making a major decision, and with the reader left hanging until the final book in the series, Hurt, is released in January 2013. Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in an exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
Chris Buckley has been struggling with a lot of issues since he and his mother moved to Solitary. That's just what seems to happen to when you move here. You find yourself a bit isolated from everyone else. It's hard enough trying to fit in and when you finally make friends, something happens so them. They move away. They disappear. Or they are murdered. Chris attempts to come to terms with what has been happening in this town, and once again he finds he is alone. Aside from a small black dog named Midnight, Chris wrestles with the inner demons inside himself. Those that constantly blame him for things that have gone wrong. That as a sixteen-year-old boy he should have been able to put a stop to things in Solitary. But he's being watched. Every single thing he does, he's being watched. He still can't trust anyone in town and he's afraid more than ever to make friends. So when faced with dealing with spending the summer once again back in school at Harrington High, he tries to make the best of it by keeping to himself. With only a few other people in his summer school class and a teacher that wants to be anywhere but here, Chris finds himself digging a bit deeper into the darkness surrounding the town. This time he attempts to confront Pastor Jeremiah Marsh who promises him anything his heart truly desires if he is willing to seek answers with him. It seems like Chris is the only one centered around the dark happenings in this strange town where secret buried tunnels beneath the town and people who can't die have something to hide. Will Chris face his greatest temptation in facing the darkness head on or will he become part of what the town is trying to hide? In the third book in the Solitary Tales series by Travis Thrasher, Temptation looks at what happens when I believe you're pushed to the end of your proverbial rope and sanity at the same time. You begin to question what is real and what isn't. What is worth a risk and what isn't and it's at this stage that Chris is finally facing his darkest fears and those that seem to have the answers he seeks. But once again, those that move in to become his allies, are they just playing him for their own purposes or do they truly have good intentions at helping Chris finally get to the bottom of the darkness and evil that thrives in the town of Solitary? I received Temptation by Travis Thrasher compliments of David C. Cook Publishers and Net Galley for my honest review and have to say, when you pick up anything by Travis Thrasher you are instantly hooked in the world he creates for his readers. It borders on the darkest places in our minds and show the reader just where the true spiritual battles are fought, in our minds! I rate this one a 5 out of 5 stars and now, can't wait for book 4 due out next year. For those of you who have never read a book by Travis Thrasher, think Stephen King, but with a Christian twist you don't see coming!!
The Surprises and Twists Continue Chris Buckley and his mother moved to Solitary, North Carolina after his parents separated over the issue of his father’s faith. After months of pressure, Chris just shuts down. Forces to attend summer school, he believes that he is stuck when Lilly walks through the door. Then when she notices him, his angst turns to joy and he forces all the scary things out of his mind and focuses solely on Lilly. After his mother tries to commit suicide while on a drinking binge, Chris believes that he is on his own with total freedom. Behind the scenes, though, manipulation increases forcing him to open his eyes. In this third installment to Thrasher’s Solitary Tales, the mood lifts a little as Chris finds a new girl, but the level of evil increases. The surprises continue keeping the reader locked into the series. Still a good bet for anyone looking at the horror, suspense genre with the added benefit of a Christian slant and no blatant profanity or sex scenes. Received from Netgalley.