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FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY. Seventeen-year-old Nick buys a used cell phone only to call his girlfriend, but strange and desperate people keep calling--one of them a denizen of Hell--begging for or demanding his help.
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William Sleator is considered a master of science fiction and thrillers for middle-grade readers and young adults. Publishers Weekly says his work is “the best that science fiction can offer.” He divides his time between homes in Boston and rural Thailand.From Booklist:
Sleator cranks the suspense knob up to 11 in this tale of an innocent teenager led astray by a smooth voice on the other end of a cell phone. The used phone that Nick buys from a sulfurous-smelling dealer is cheap, but it has a few odd features, including a disabled caller ID and a set of "Games from Real Hell." It also comes with a history, as Nick discovers when it starts ringing. When he answers it, he finds himself talking to Fleck, a dead man calling from hell, who tells him a tale about a homicidal teenager out to kill his sister to inherit a family fortune. It's Nick who ends up pulling the trigger, after which he learns that everything has been an elaborate scam--except for the hell part, as he discovers in a most disagreeable way. Despite the unpleasant revelation, Sleator manages to whiplash the plot around to an upbeat conclusion. Readers shouldn't examine the internal logic here too closely, nor should they start reading this around bedtime. John Peters
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