[Blog Tour] Creeps by Darren Hynes

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Title: Creeps
Author: Darren Hynes
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Bullying
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Release Date: July 30, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill Canada
Source: ARC received from publisher for honest review

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Fifteen-year-old Wayne Pumphrey wishes he were courageous enough to actually send the heartfelt letters he writes to friends and family. He also wishes his father would drive on the right side of the street, his mother would stop packing her suitcase to leave, and his sister would stop listening to Nickelback. But most of all, he wishes that Pete “The Meat” would let him walk to school in peace. After all, how many times can one person eat yellow snow?

Then one morning, while facing Pete and his posse, Wayne is rescued by Marjorie, the girl with a dead father and a mother who might as well be. Together, the two of them escape Pete’s relentless bullying by rehearsing for the school play, and an unlikely friendship is formed. As they grow ever closer to one another, they begin to dream of escape from their small town and restricted lives. But Pete now has plans for both of them—and after a moment of sudden violence, nothing will ever be the same again for Wayne, Marjorie, or Pete himself.

What can I say about this book that has not already been said? It is fantastic, real, and heart shattering in a way I never expected. Going into this story I knew it was about bullying and I knew that it dealt with some serious topics but honestly I never once expected what I just read. It blew my expectations into a millions and one pieces.

Before I get into the bullying aspect of the novel, I would just like to commend Darren for writing this story. It was extremely hard for me to read so I expect it was just as hard to write, if not more. Wayne is the type of character that defines what it is to be an outsider. He is skinny, sensitive and loves to write-these are not aspects of a boys personality that get him on the "cool list" and it becomes painfully clear right from the beginning. What I also loved about Wayne's character was his relationship with Marjorie. Their friendship makes no sense on paper but it works for some reason, and it is that relationship and the trials and tribulations that they go through that brought me to tears at the end.

Bullying is something that has always been very close to my heart when it comes to awareness and discipline. When I was in middle school I was bullied relentlessly for 3 years. I have always been semi ashamed of those years but I know that they were detrimental to the person that I became. I have always been overweight, it was something I used to be ashamed of, and at times still am, but at the time that was what those kids focused on, the same went for Wayne. There was one scene that really hit home for me and that was when Wayne was forced onto the ground (on multiple occasions) by his tormentors. That same thing happened to me, so reading that got me extremely emotional in a way I never expected. I thought I was done with that part of my life, but this book took me down some memories I thought I had forgotten and honestly I am glad it did, because those moments in your life are important and should never be forgotten because they will shape the way you view others and I think it made me a better person.

If you read any book this year please let it be this one because it is important. It is important for young kids and their parents because it will demonstrate what it is like to be on the other side of the laughter and how horrible it can be. I want every kid to read this book just so they know what it feels like, at least on paper. Creeps is one of the best books I have ever read...ever. And every person on the planet needs to read it.

In Creeps you write about bullying and violence in general. This is usually a topic that isn’t written about but it is becoming more popular in YA literature, but still not at the forefront. Why did you choose to write about it, and do you think more and more authors will discuss this topic in the future?

- I didn’t start off writing a book about bullying. In the early stages the book was about a boy’s coming of age in a small northern town. I’d had a lot written before I realized the story was flat and lifeless. Out of frustration and despair, I put the manuscript away and worked for a while on something else. But I kept going back to Creeps because sometimes a story knows it has to be written even before the writer does.

- Things sort of dropped in for me during a conversation with my fifteen-year-old nephew, in which he told me about a girl who pretended to like him on Facebook and then posted how gross he was when he started to like her back. It was a terrible story and I obsessed over it for weeks, and then it occurred to me that Creeps needed an element of this (bullying) in its narrative. With time however, the bullying element took over and the book became about celebrating our differences and how there should be a place for everyone.

- Whether or not more authors will tackle this subject in the future remains to be seen. However – given the impact of bullying – I tend to think that stories about it will be around for a long time to come. For myself, I tend to write what I worry or obsess about. Oftentimes there’s someone I want to champion or root for.

Thank you to Darren Hynes for anwsering my questions!

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  1. 100% agree. This book was hard to read but excellent. I definitely think it's a must read.