Book: Black Chalk
Author: Christopher J. Yates
Source: Free from publisher (part of the TLC book tour)
Readability Rating: 4 stars
Morality Rating: PG-13
Target Audience: Teens and Young Adults (but it isn’t really a classic YA book)
Buy it: Amazon (currently out of stock, but should be back soon! It’s definitely worth the wait if you go ahead and order it)
Read the first two chapters of Black Chalk here!
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Black Chalk Summary
It started as a simple game between friends. The penalty? Each participant must do increasingly embarrassing acts. As the game progresses, and the players’ secrets are revealed, just how far will the players go to win? Is winning a game worth embarrassing friends, losing friendships, or even death?
I absolutely loved the premise of this book- and found it quite enjoyable. However, I feel like there could have been more to the story. Th beginning was a little slow and then suddenly, the game hopped to extreme high stakes. I was a little disappointed the author didn’t dig a little deeper.
Plot: The plot is my favorite thing about this book. I love the idea of game that is essentially high-stakes Dare taking over and transforming the dynamics of the group. I do wish the book had focused a little more on the game years and a little less on present time. The conclusion of the book did not answer all my questions- so I’m hoping to see a Black Chalk sequel soon. On the whole, I give Black Chalk an A for an interesting twist on a unique plot.
Characters: I loved all the characters in this story. I particularly enjoyed how all of the characters evolved as the story progressed. I had a lot of fun trying to figure out who the narrator of the story was (it wasn’t who I thought!) and I liked how the personalities of each character was changed as a result of the game. I wished there had been a bit more explanation for why the characters did what they did. Some of their actions seemed abrupt and out of nowhere. I would have loved to read more about the relationships between the characters. Some of them left the game before I even had a chance to feel like I knew them or why they would leave at all.
Setting: This book takes place in Oxford and New York City at the same time. The stories about the game are all told in flashback style from the character now living in New York. I have never been to Oxford, but this book gave me a sense of what it might have felt/looked like during the 1990s. I imagined a lot of peeling paint, narrow hallways, and smoke-filled rooms. 🙂 I particularly enjoyed the setting of the main character’s current-time apartment. The descriptions gave an air of mystery that I really wanted to figure out.
Writing: I really enjoyed about 80 percent of the writing- maybe even 90. The remaining 10 percent, however, was a little vague. I found it difficult to follow what was happening occasionally- and I was left with a sense that some of the book was missing. I felt that the action scenes were a little slow- which was perfect for the rest of the book, but lacked emotion during critical elements of the plot.
Black Chalk is an intriguing book. I appreciated the effort of the author to create something unusual and somewhat realistic at the same time. On the whole, Black Chalk is a more character-driven story than a plot-driven story. I really enjoyed the development and change in the characters- but if you are looking for a more action-based thriller, you may be a little disappointed. If you are up for something different, don’t look over this book- you won’t be sorry. I see this book making an excellent movie.