Who doesn’t love Scooby Doo? Charlatans, that’s who. The iconic show is probably the biggest reason so many authors and TV writers make teens their go-to sleuths, rather than jaded adults. But what happens when constantly putting themselves in the line of danger makes these kids more than just jaded, but totally derails their life? That’s what Edgar Cantero, author of The Supernatural Enhancements, delves deep to answer in his new book, Meddling Kids.
Meddling Kids follows the adventures of three former teen detectives who once took down a man in a mask trying to commit fraud. Andy, Kerri, and Nate, however, are not the well adjusted adults their teenaged success predicted they would be. However, as their lives continue to fall apart into their 20s, tomboy Andy decides to grab science-genius Kerri and deeply Nate to go back to the scene of their last mystery, which was a lot more gruesome and supernatural than the accounts relate. But will these former adolescent gumshoes be able to figure out what lives under the lake, or who exactly was using all of those terrible artifacts?
Meddling Kids is a book that deals with this weird idea TV has imbued in us, that teenagers are somehow better equipped by their purity and their inexperience to deal with the things that trip adults up or that adults don’t want to look at. It’s this trope in Young Adult literature that feels so far apart from the baby I can now see that I was at 16, which is the way all teenagers look when you get to a certain age. Cantero looks at these teen detectives are asks how they could deal with things and idea far beyond their scope and the damage it does, which makes for a surprisingly rich narrative. Each member of the old detective club is broken in different ways — Andy wanders aimlessly (and occasionally on the lamb), Kerri settles for a degrading job, Nate goes in and out of mental hospitals, and Pete, who we never really meet, overdoses. However, rather than go along with this mundane lifestyle, they choose to face their fears and deal with the supernatural.
This book is described as Scooby Doo meets Lovecraft, and that’s pretty accurate. There’s a lot of deep, dark aquatic creatures with a solid amount of action and wit to keep the plot moving. Where the book shines is in character development, in making the reader feel like you really know Andy, Kerri, and Nate, even when they are being a little off-kilter and ridiculous at times. I like how there are no flashbacks, no extra expositing for secondary characters, just relying on our pop culture knowledge to fill in the blanks and getting to the point. There are definitely one or two excellent plot twists thrown in there, a solid villain, and while sometimes the action can be hard to follow, everything flows pretty smoothly from scene to scene.
If there’s one part of the book that was a bit of a let down for me, it was the ending — it felt a little rushed and tied the story together a little too neatly for my taste. Again, that is part of the trope of the teen sleuth genre, but there are some aspects that could have used fleshing out or maybe been a bit more somber. Still, doesn’t detract from the fun and the fear in the rest of the book, which is all you can ask for.
Meddling Kids is available at all major book retailers on July 11, 2017.
Meddling Kids was provided to us by Doubleday. For more information on how we review books and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy.
This book is not at all what I expected, but in the best way. It’s witty, it’s fresh, and I think in many ways it picks up on some of the nuances in our pop culture obsession with teens dealing with supernatural and crime. If you’re looking for some nostalgia-tinted horror, it’s going to scratch that itch and then some.
A Howling Good Time That Deftly Avoids Cliches