A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This is a learn-what-not-to-do story about the risks of being unprepared and overestimating your ability to take on a new (and potentially dangerous) challenge. Vivid descriptions of the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina.
Shows the importance of putting aside your differences so you can work together and get through tough times.
Positive Role Models
While their determination to survive and loyalty to each other is exceptional, neither Josie or Neema took preparing for their hike as seriously as they should have and pay a terrible price for that decision.
While Neema's ethnicity (she's Indian American) plays no part in how the story unfolds, there are some brief passages that reveal more about her and her family. Neema's given up counting how often strangers think she's Native American (which means Cherokee in North Carolina) or Mexican. She realizes and appreciates the challenges her parents faced when they immigrated to the United States (her mother had to repeat her medical residency and her lawyer father had to pass the local bar exam). But she admits to being embarrassed by their "cliche" ambitions for her. They haven't hidden the fact that they wanted her to go to MIT like her brother (or any Ivy League school) rather USC. And while Neema's agreed to major in economics, she hopes to someday convince her parents to let her study film and TV production as well.
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Violence & Scariness
Violence in the story is graphic, and there's a lot of it. People are shot, brutally murdered, mangled in an accident, and torn apart by a wild animal. Characters find rotting corpses and corpses of the newly murdered. There are mentions of actual serial killers (Son of Sam, Zodiac, and the National Forest Serial Killer) and hikers who have been killed or gone missing in or near the forest where the girls are hiking. A character had been sent to prison for raping a child.
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There's a fair amount of profanity ("s--t," "goddamn," "a--hole") and multiple uses of "f--k."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One mention of classmates who drink beer and smoke weed.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Stephanie Perkin's The Woods Are Always Watching is a gory, violence-packed horror novel. Before heading off to separate colleges, best friends Neema Chandrasekhar and Josie Gordon have decided to take a three-day hike in North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest. The fact that neither is an experienced hiker or camper means things are certain to go terribly wrong. Josie is seriously injured in a fall, and the two girls find themselves hunted by a pair of serial killers. There's a fair amount of profanity ("f--k," "s--t," "goddamn," "a--hole") and readers should be prepared for a storyline filled with graphic violence, as people are shot, murdered, mangled, and torn apart by a wild animal.
Is It Any Good?
This dark and terrifying story about friendship, determination, and serial killers is a predictable, sometimes implausible, and often gripping page-turner. The Woods Are Always Watching isn't for teens who have a low tolerance for violence and gore. Readers who are hikers or campers will appreciate the author's vivid descriptions of the Pisgah Forest but are likely to be dismayed by how casually Josie and Neema prepared for the hike.
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