Review: Extremities by David Lubar

David Lubar
Series: None
Release Date: July 23rd, 2013
Publisher: Tor
Rating: 1.5 stars
Word Rating: As scary as Dora
Reviewed by: Blythe

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Master of the macabre David Lubar turns his attention to dark and twisted tales for teens with Extremities: Stories of Death, Murder, and Revenge.

A group of high school girls takes revenge on their sadistic gym teacher in the most fitting way possible. Two stowaways find themselves on a ship for the dead. An ancient predator stalks the wrong victim. Here are thirteen tales of death, murder, and revenge from the fertile and febrile imagination of master storyteller David Lubar—his first story collection for the teen audience.

On the back cover of Extremities, there is a warning, if you will, with the headline, "THIS IS NOT A BOOK FOR CHILDREN." Honestly, had Extremities not briefly mentioned drug use and other triggers you're likely not to find in a children's novel, and I hadn't read that warning, I could have been fooled into thinking otherwise. Although David Lubar stresses the point that he doesn't feel Extremities is for a younger audience enough to put a warning on the back of the book, I feel it is best read for younger readers and young teenagers who want to make an attempt at dipping their toe into the horror genre.

I, however, obviously not a younger teenager, found much to be desired from David Lubar's first foray from children's horror anthologies (most notably his 'Weenies' anthologies). Each and every one of the stories in Extremities is undeniably dark in their essence, but they also each bear a just-as-undeniable essence of juvenility, whether that juvenility is achieved by the author's perhaps overly simplistic writing style, or the plot and execution of the stories themselves.

Aside from the fact that I found all but one or two of the thirteen stories in this anthology to be decent, the other twelve or eleven ranging from bad to mediocre, the execution of the stories just isn't met with the grim nature of their concepts. The stories in this anthology deal with concepts such as murder, revenge, voodoo, the paranormal, and more. And while all of those concepts may seem far too dark for a children's novel, it's the way each of those concepts are handled that I feel establishes the juvenility throughout most of Extremities.

I wouldn't go so far as saying David Lubar treats each of his stories in Extremities lightheartedly, because that's not accurate. The subject matter of the novel is heavy, and David Lubar treats it like such. Just not successfully, I felt. It's difficult for me to portray the youthfulness I feel the stories within Extremities bear, and I feel as if I am almost contradicting every point I am trying to make concerning the adolescent undertone of the stories, so I suppose it may be something you'd have to experience in order to fully understand.

With that having been said, it seems I am definitely in the minority regarding my thoughts on Extremities, and that many people found it to be chilling and well-written, so perhaps giving Extremities a shot to see if you agree with me with the stories may not be a lose/lose situation for you. I, on the other hand, found the character development to be extremely insufficient or nonexistent (yes, I do expect at least some character development, even for such short stories); I found the plots and their progression to be lacking a certain something to make them particularly memorable or exciting and new, and the writing to be, again, like that of writing you would find in a novel directed towards a younger audience than this is currently being marketed towards. Once again, in my opinion, Extremities would be best for early teens or so who show an interest in reading horror and want to start of with something somewhat tame. Unfortunately for Extremities, and for myself, I am an adult who has quite an experience with horror, and am far past looking for something "somewhat tame."


  1. I'm not a huge fan of short stories. They take me back to high school, when we had to read so many of them and my reaction was usually along the lines of, "Huh?" The short format doesn't leave a lot of time for character development or building tension... so the author really has to know what they're doing. Neil Gaiman's M Is for Magic is the only collection of short stories I can recall reading in recent years that I actually enjoyed.

    1. Yeah, I'm not too huge a fan of short stories myself (and I hate it when I have to assign an anthology to my class during the school year), but I figured I'd give this one a shot considering I got it from the publishers by surprise, and it's horror, and I love horror. Unfortunately, I don't feel the author knew what he was doing to build tension or anything in these stories. Will have to check out Gaiman's anthology! I have heard fantastic things about practically all his works.

  2. "As scary as Dora." lol.

    Wasn't this also the one that Christina didn't find all that scary either? I thought the two of you had pointed out the lack of character development, so then you're not really *that* much in the minority :). It's a shame the execution didn't live up to the promise of the potential that each concept had. Pure shame that it seemed way more juvenile than its synopsis made it sound. Murder, revenge, and voodoo could indeed lead to some interesting places, and the idea of a YA horror anthology also sounds intriguing, but it sounds like the best thing to do is to find an excerpt and see whether the writing style works for me, or if I'm like you and Christina. Here's to hoping your next read is good, or as pleasantly surprising for you as it seemed like Perfect Lies was!

    1. Yeah, Christina didn't think it was scary either, and she felt it didn't have much character development, either. I think she also didn't like the writing, too. But it seems that everyone else loves this one! So Christina and I are definitely in the minority for this, unfortunately. And yeah, I think you should read an excerpt to see if this is for you. I plan on giving this away on the blog soon, so if you enter maybe you'll win! I hope you fall with the majority on this one, should you end up giving it a shot.

  3. Hahaha, sorry dude. You can see why I DNFed. I don't much like horror anyway, and the stories were so juvenile. So not my thing. I also expect character development. From everything, so this was a bad choice for me. Sorry, Tor, but no.

    1. Ick, I can definitely see why you DNF'd. And I'm glad you felt that the stories were juvenile, too. I have a feeling they were supposed to be clever, but they never came across as that to me, unfortunately.

  4. The usual splendidly sinister tales spun by Lubar, except these are YA, allowing for even more sinisterness. An enjoyable read.
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