Reviewed by Lynn Crow for TeensReadToo.com
THE SCARY STATES OF AMERICA is a collection of 50 short stories, one for each state, about paranormal experiences ranging from ghosts and supernatural creatures to aliens and crop circles. The stories are framed by the narrative of Jason Specter, a 12-year-old collector of all things scary and bizarre. Though presented as "true" stories from readers Jason has reached through his website, both the character of Jason and the stories are fictional, though the cover notes they are "based on true events."
The variety of the stories is what makes them most appealing. Some are standard fare: the hitchhiking ghost, the aliens who kidnap people to run invasive tests on them. Many, however, are unusual takes on the familiar, like the vicious Bigfoot a bear photographer runs into and the heartbroken ghost haunting a toy store, or unique creatures and tales which will be new to most readers, like those of the skunk ape and the shadow people. Part of the enjoyment is in wondering how much of each story might really have happened, and what you would do in similar situations.
Be warned: many of the stories are quite scary, and some rather graphic when it comes to blood and gore. Many times the teller of the tale barely survives to tell about it, and some have come out of it quite a bit worse for wear. The most exciting stories are those in which Jason plays a direct part, often risking life and limb. Readers will appreciate his skeptical yet open-minded approach.
Though those hoping to catch a glimpse into real recorded paranormal events will have to look elsewhere, this book will make a fun read for those who simply like a good scare. Bring it along to your next campfire or sleepover and read a few aloud in the dark. Chills are guaranteed!