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Reunion, by Jeff Bennington, Is Thrilling and Suspenseful

April 06, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 165

Author Jeff Bennington scores big with his thriller, suspense novel, Reunion. Read this and prepare yourself for a redoubtable journey deep into paranormal and mysterious realms.

Set in a small Midwestern town, this novel tackles a subject which has been headline news in recent years--school shootings. Bennington takes on an enormously sensitive and emotion-stirring topic, but adds a huge twist to it.

The story begins with a highly disturbed and angry teenager named David Ray. Many may criticize Bennington for some of the stereotypes attributed to this boy, but much of it is accurate to how many of these youth are described in real life. There are also other commonly discussed issues such as bullying and how certain kids are treated as outcasts in school. But what makes David Ray different is a past and childhood of such a nefarious nature, most of us couldn't even imagine. This is where it could get a bit unbelievable for some readers. Unfortunately though, evil is a reality in this world and there are people who use it, play with it, and even worship it.

After David Ray murders a handful of students and injures a few more in the school cafeteria, we jump twenty years into the future. I was impressed with how Bennington deep-dives into the psychology of some of the students who were there that fateful day and had survived. Each has some kind of post-traumatic stress syndrome, some more than others, and each individual is dealing with it in his or her own unique way. Much of the story describes how they've all led different lives and have gone after or avoided certain things as a result of what happened.

One day, one of the surviving classmates gets the idea to have a reunion for those who were there the day of the killings. The group ends up agreeing to meet back at the school. Only six make the gathering, but the events that precede this get-together are quite suspenseful and riveting. Not only is the reader anticipating a confrontation with the unknown, but the interactions of characters and the motives behind their behavior really makes one want to see the outcome.

But there are some surprises in store for us. Not only are there unexpected revelations to David Ray's character and childhood, there is one big unforeseen twist as we near the end that takes everyone by surprise. As we roar toward the heart-thumping conclusion, we're unsure how it's all going to pan out and who's going to be left. I would be surprised if this book does not become a movie someday.

I personally believe without hesitation in a real and active spiritual world, so this story was not completely unrealistic to me. I do not think, however, that spirits have the power described here over people unless deliberately invited. People do, of course, invite evil into their lives by toying with witchcraft and other things that many think are fun and games. If you haven't connected with evil that way, there is actually a leash on it and it can only do so much. But in this novel, evil has quite a bit of frightening power, including the ability to kill innocents. On the whole though, I don't think Bennington was trying to suggest this is real life. I think he was simply combining paranormal horror elements with the harsh reality of school shootings to make the point that when kids do this, there is a spiritual component involved. And this I absolutely believe to be true.

Read Reunion, if you dare, but keep the light on. Be prepared to be challenged about what you may think of good, evil, God, and the Devil. There are reasons why children are driven to murder other children, and while you may have uncertainty about the themes that underpin this story, it will get you thinking and asking questions about why these events happen.

Kelly Libatique is a professional speaker, technical trainer, and author. He holds a Master's in Education and a Bachelor's in Psychology. He resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife Anne and two sons.

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