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4.9 out of 5 stars
Gravestone: A Novel (Solitary Tales Series)
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Shattered. There's no other way to describe Chris Buckley's life. Absolutely shattered by the events that ended Solitary, Chris now has to return to school like everything is a-ok when in reality nothing has ever been more wrong. Last year, when Travis Thrasher released Solitary, the first book in The Solitary Tales, I was absolutely blown away by everything about the book. Theme. Plot. Beginning. Middle. End. Writing style. In fact, I picked it as my favorite book of 2010.

Needless to say, I was highly anticipating Gravestone. I had no idea where Thrasher was taking the story, I just hoped it would be an exciting and fascinating journey. Second installments of series can be difficult. First installments introduce the world--characters, initial plot, overarching theme, and many other things that make for a good stories. They're like the initial downhill plunge of a roller coaster. Maybe kind of slow at first as the world is built, but then you whoosh down that initial hill. The momentum for the series is set. Second installments can either coast along and take things easy or take the reader on a series of dips, dives, and loops that make for an exhilarating ride. Gravestone is definitely the latter.

The book begins with Chris trying to somehow go back to normal life and ignore the catastrophic events at the end of Solitary that are now being covered up. He's got to do something, but what can he do? In the journey to find justice and seek out the evil in Solitary, Chris finds a few new friends, a few new enemies, and many more questions. The more Chris looks into the matter, the more he finds that the source of evil in Solitary rests on New Beginnings Church and Pastor Jeremiah Marsh.

Gravestone, is in a way the tale of Chris Buckley v. Jeremiah Marsh. The odd hints on the pastor received in Solitary blossom as the pastor unveils his true colors. But everyone but Chris--and maybe a few others--seem oblivious to it. Thrasher respectfully moves on from the shocking end of Solitary, giving it the emotional weight it deserved without bogging down the pacing of the story. Perhaps my favorite parts were the scenes of Chris speaking with Iris at Crag's Inn, where he ends up getting a job. So much alluded to, so much left unsaid, such a great storyline.

Like Solitary, Gravestone ends on cliffhanger that's jaw dropping. It answers as many questions as it raises, for as one layer is revealed a new layer presents itself. Where will Chris go from here? I have no idea...but I can't wait to find out. Hopefully five years from now, The Solitary Tales will be known as the series that launched Thrasher's writing into the bestseller's lists. It's certainly deserving of being there.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Last year I received a copy of Solitary from a publicist and tossed it in my bag on the way to a family reunion, whereupon I ended up blowing all sorts of people off since I got so engrossed in it. Thanks, Travis Thrasher. This time I have a pile of papers to grade, yet the second installment in the series--Gravestone--showed up on my doorstep, and I've done nothing for the past several hours except plow through it. Now my students thank you, Travis Thrasher.

Gravestone picks up immmediately where Solitary left off, right after New Year's Eve and all the events that happened. Chris Buckley is alone and terrified and wondering in whom to believe. Oh, and there's a snowstorm, and there's no phone or Internet service. This scene sets things in motion that are an even wilder ride than Solitary was. It's hard to tell much about the book without giving any spoilers, but the main thread is Chris trying to find someone, anyone, he can confide in and trust about the increasingly frightening happenings and menacing people in town.

In addition to the previous characters, we're introduced to several new people--Kelsey in Chris's art class; Jared, Chris's unknown cousin; and Iris, a mysterious elderly lady who lives on a hill, each of whom provides another piece of the sinister mosaic that is Solitary. The increasingly-ominous Pastor Jeremiah Marsh begins to take center stage. How much does Chris's mom know about what's going on? Will Chris ever see his dad again? What about the mysterious church underneath the falls?

Gravestone has some out-and-out horror moments and so many twists that you're wondering whom you can trust right along with Chris. As well, it examines Chris's faith, or lack of it, in greater detail and shows us yet again that nothing and no one is exactly what it seems.

The book leaves us with another shocking, unexpected ending, and we have to wait until June 2012 for the next installment and June 2013 for the final installment. Thanks, Travis Thrasher!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
In some ways "Gravestone" is like the TV show Lost: The Complete Sixth and Final Season where every character is an enigma and every answer opens up two more questions. At time the TV show and this book can be quite maddening and you get to the point where you want to yell-out in frustration. The difference is that "Gravestone" is able to keep the loose ends in order allowing it to progress with the tale.

 Solitary: A Novel (Solitary Tales Series) is the first novel in the Solitary series and it has a define beginning middle and end. However, "Gravestone" makes no apologies as it clearly serves as a bridge between "Solitary" and the next installment Temptation: A Novel (Solitary Tales Series). Despite being virtual literary bridge "Gravestone" is a darker (and ultimately better) than its predecessor. It is tough to explain how a YA Christian mystery novel could have the same level of gloom and dread as Salem's Lot and The Mist (Previously Published as a Novella in 'Skeleton Crew') but it matches both of them. It really is a surprising novel on many accounts - not only is scary, but it also captures teenage angst and the nature of being an outcast and a rebel.

One thing that sets the Solitary apart from other books in the suspense/mystery genre is that for all of its evil and scary imagery it a very clean novel. While I wouldn't recommend it to kids under 13 (especially if they are nightmare prone) it avoids using profanity or other cheap tricks to try and create an authentic feel.

Final Verdict, while "Gravestone" may not be appropriate for every teenager it will likely be popular series if people see it for what it is (a very dark and terrifying story) and not as a YA Christian novel. Trust me - "Gravestone" is a novel that would make Stephen King very proud.

5 Stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2012
Format: Paperback
Gravestone is the second book in "The Solitary Tales" and my favorite so far! It started out with a great prologue that right away brought me back to Solitary, North Carolina and all that is going on in Chris Buckley's life.

I found the story to be interesting and, at times, creepy (in a good way). There were a few times I found myself confused (and I think that was the point), but all that just made me want to keep reading to find out what was going on!

I liked the fact that there seemed to be a lot more talk of faith in Gravestone than I remember there being in Solitary - it gave more depth and meaning to the story and I'm hoping it continues in the next "Solitary Tales" novels.

I liked the characters and the way they reacted to certain things was believable. There was a lot of suspense, action, and mystery in Gravestone and with the ending it has, I can hardly wait to read the next book, Temptation: A Novel (Solitary Tales Series), to see what will happen next.

Gravestone is a great read that I think mid-to-older teens and adults who like suspense and don't mind some weirdness will enjoy - I loved it! I recommend reading Solitary: A Novel (Solitary Tales Series) (book one) first, though, because that way things will be in context.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.*
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Sixteen year old Chris Buckley remains an outsider having recently moved from Chicago suburb Libertyville, Illinois to live with his mom in her hometown of Solitary, North Carolina. They reside in the cabin of his missing Uncle Robert. He anticipated a major adjustment, but not what happened especially to Jocelyn who he wanted to make his girlfriend (see Solitary).

While his mom suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Chris continues to have canine attack problems even as he meets his cousin Jared who apparently rescues him from the latest dog assault. Jared wants to know where his father is while also insisting the town is shut down with the snowstorm making it easier to achieve this. However, as he barely keeps from soiling his pants as he is must choose between life and death over the edge of Marsh Falls, Chris trusts no one especially not his mentally battered mom, a cousin who says his aunt is unaware he exists; nor Pastor Jeremiah Marsh whose closets are filled with skeletons.

The atmosphere turns darker and gloomier as Chris struggles with good and evil as he continues his quest to learn the haunting secrets of Solitary. Although cognizant of the threat to his life that his mission causes, he is just beginning to understand the risk to his soul. Young adults and older readers will relish the second Buckley Solitary thriller as the hero struggles with comprehending what is going on in this small North Carolina town.

Harriet Klausner
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Gravestone picks up where Solitary left off. Sixteen-year-old Chris is still reeling from the blows he was dealt in Solitary and has to deal with new situations. I love the internal and external struggles that go on with Chris, the challenges that he is facing, and his journey through it all.

My favorite qualities of this book: *Questions from Solitary were answered. *More questions arise that will (hopefully!) be answered in the following books. *We get more information on characters from Solitary. *New characters are introduced. *The descriptions and imagery that Thrasher uses really makes the reader feel like they're in the midst of all that's going on. *There are new and unexpected twists and turns.

I read Gravestone in 4 hours--and was able to forget about the year-long wait. :) I cannot wait to see what the rest of the series (book 3-Temptation and book 4-Hurt, both due out 2012) has in store!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
I was skeptical at first when I picked up Solitary simply because I have been spoiled by the likes of Ted Dekker's novels. Needless to say Dekker is a powerhouse among the thriller/suspense/supernatural genre if such a genre exists. But the solitary tales have lived up every bit. The characters are truly engaging giving the reader a true sense of how each one feels. The interlacing of stories between all the characters give the novel a true depth and body. That being said Gravestone took the empty spaces left by Solitary and filled them with just as much depth and interest. The sequel brings to light many new aspects of the solitary tales that leaves the reader wanting more. I just wish i had all 4 novels in my hand now. Patience is a virtue well received when ending on the cliffhangers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
Chris Buckley is depressed, to say the very least. For one, his girlfriend was just murdered. For another, he still has no idea what on Earth (or Hell) is going on in Solitary, North Carolina. Weird is the new normal, and time is running out almost as fast as his adrenaline is pumping.

Unless you're having problems with fear-induced seizures, I can't think of a single thing not to love about this book. Pacing, suspense, character building, suspense, romance, suspense... Travis Thrasher has mastered each of these aspects of incredible storytelling.

Picking up exactly where the first book of The Solitary Tales left off, Mr. Thrasher wastes no time in launching the reader on an emotional thrill-ride that is sure to give you nightmares.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon January 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Gravestone picks up where Solitary left off, right after New Year's Eve and all the events that happened. Chris Buckley is isolated, alone and terrified, wondering who he can trust or believe in. He is broken, tired, terrified.

After the cliff hanger ending of Solitary, we are taken deeper into the turmoil caused by Pastor Jeremiah Marsh and the New Beginnings Church, which Chris believes to be the root of the evil in Solitary. Problem is, pretty much, no one else seems to think this.

I won't say I was confused by parts of this book, I was mystified, which I think is the author's purpose, to keep us guessing, because in life there aren't always easy, complete answers to the important stuff.

Again, this is dark, edgy, frightening. Again, Chris is an amazing narrator! Again, we have a cliff hanger ending! Well done!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I won a copy of Gravestone from Travis Thrashers FB page, gotta say it was the most rewarding thing Ive ever won. Like the 1st one, Solitary, I couldnt put it down! After Solitary you already feel confused, hurt, betrayed, and curious. Now in Gravestone, you, like Chris, question every character and wonder who you can trust. Twists and turns at every end.

Only thing is, have to wait for next Summer for the next installment. Which you better believe Ill be in line to get!!

Would make an amazing movie! If they could make Solitary and Gravestone into one film. Cant wait to see what happens next!!

Do yourself a favor, and download these books. Travis Thrasher has just made my #1 on my fav authors page!!! Keep it comin Mr. Thrasher!
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