If you’re interested in a summer thriller then Maren Stoffels’s new middle grade novel Stranger Danger is the ideal read. It leads you to question who’s the victim or the assailant. It will have your pulse quicken and curiosity piqued. A page turner that is confusing yet intriguing by each passing chapter. For those who like a good eerie chapter book from different mysterious points of view, then Stranger Danger is the short novel for you.
The Plot of Stranger Danger
Teenagers Nova, Vin, and Lotus are in the middle of nowhere with no internet and a killer hunting them down. The thing is one out of three knows about it. The majority of the novel is the point of view of Lotus and the mysterious killer. Lotus wasn’t planning on going to this rented farmhouse, but Nova’s insistence has brought them here to study for their finals. The three teens are thinking about their future but soon realize their futures might be in jeopardy. Lotus is the one who keeps getting mysterious texts from someone seeking vengeance. The thing is she has no clue who it is or how they got her number.
Someone knows her secret, knows her friends secrets, and they are out here for revenge. All while trying to harbor in others’ secrets and act as if nothing is going wrong, Lotus must protect Nova and Vin. Tensions are high and true thoughts spring to the surface. Will this trio of friends be okay once everything comes out?
My Thoughts After Reading Stranger Danger
This short story was a bit mind-boggling. My first impression was a bit of confusion due to the mysterious character. Lotus is the main character’s point of view we read as the story progresses, and she builds the tension for the readers as we try to figure out her secrets.
At first you feel the secret is only between Vin and Lotus. However, there are more layers to the story. Lotus seems to be the anxious one of the group. They are unsure of the friendship dynamic with their friends. In addition to this potential stalker who somehow got their special phone number, Lotus’s secret may be exposed to her friends and the world.
Nova immediately gave me the impression of the leader. She seemed to be in charge and the control freak. It was her idea that they go on the trip in the first place. She is a strong-headed person and is very passionate when it comes to her feelings. Nova will always figure out if you’re lying, she has that aura that is commanding and dark which puts Vin and Lotus on edge sometimes. With both of them harboring secrets that also adds to the thrill of having everything unravel.
Nova’s relationship with Vin is tense. It’s clear that he kind of goes with what Nova wants. Vin is the supportive boyfriend to Nova in the group. He doesn’t leave a super strong impression, only that he has a secret between Lotus. But as certain truths float to the surface we can tell there is more to him than meets the eye.
The mysterious character that is seeking revenge on Lotus is a complex individual. Usually, their chapters consisted of flashbacks and one-liners of their thoughts after doing something to put Lotus, Vin, and Nova in danger.
There are many questions at first but slowly you put the pieces together. Some chapters were fast-paced and had huge reveals which brings the highs and lows for this short story novel. One warning I would give to anyone who is reading this book is to know that there is content regarding body shaming, anorexia, bulimia, and intense bullying; please view with caution or do not read if this is a trigger.
Stranger Danger will be released on May 5, 2023. If you want to read more of Maren Stoffels’s work try reading Fright Night, Room Service, and Escape Room. Preorder Stranger Danger on Penguin Random House.
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