The Pledge

Feiwel & Friends. Feb. 2023. 304p. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9781250186973.
Gr 9 Up–Sam Carville is a survivor. After a horrific night at his friend’s lake house, he and his boyfriend, Eli, barely survived, with Sam slaying the killer in self-defense. Two years later, after spending his life in isolation and fear at home, Sam is hoping to start over. He wants to go to college, have friends, and finally live his life. Despite some lingering PTSD, Sam gets dropped off at school by his supportive father and meets his cute new resident advisor, Oren. Oren, a brother at local Alpha Phi Nu, invites Sam to pledge his fraternity. Embracing his new college experience, Sam instantly bonds with some of his new fraternity mates. Sam thinks that Greek life is his future, but soon discovers that his past won’t let go. One by one, his new fraternity brothers are murdered. Eli emerges as the prime suspect, but Sam knows Eli well enough to know that it can’t be true. As Sam and Oren grow closer, the race to uncover the true killer heats up. This nonstop teen thriller, clearly inspired by many slasher movies, is sure to make readers who are looking for action-based plots happy. The violence is never explicit and never has an overabundance of gore. Characters are murdered quickly, but with obvious emotional fallout for Sam and his friends when they mourn them. The whodunnit-based subplot about the identity of the killer and why he is after Sam is ultimately satisfying. Sam’s LGBTQIA+ identity is a part of the story and represented well.
VERDICT A recommended first purchase for any teen collection looking to add a horror-based book with a gay protagonist.

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