One summer, five unlikely friends gathered around a box in the forest and put in items to cement their friendship. Now, four years later, the group is drawn back together when they begin experiencing horrors related to the items they put into the box. Sep is the loner of the group and is just marking time until he can get off the island where he has lived all his life and go to the mainland on a scholarship. He is skeptical when his former friends approach him but it soon becomes clear that someone broke the rules of the sacrifice box and now they are being targeted in the order in which they made their sacrifices. As they work to close the box again, it becomes clear that they were not the first group of friends in town to be drawn to the box and that this time the box might not be satisfied until it gets a much bigger sacrifice.
Eh. I picked this ARC because it sounded exactly like the kind of book my students would love to read. It probably is going to be fairly popular at my school, but it wasn't as compelling as I expected. For one thing, the kids were slow at getting back to the box to shut it up! They were being chased by hordes of undead animals but still took the time to load up a wounded stag and take it to the veterinarian, then later they went back to the vet to warn him that there are some weird things happening. Dudes, just go do the box thing! And speaking of the vet, our first introduction to him was him saying that he killed animals and that when he looks at a puppy he knows he will be killing it someday. I guess he was speaking like that because he was not a native English speaker...? But it was harsh and really turned me off to him and to the book overall. Finally, the writing - particularly in the first few chapters - was much too overblown with some really overworked metaphors. I can sell this easily with a short booktalk but I know some kids will put it down before we get to the murderous teddy bear.