Title: Pool Pranks

Author: Paul Phillips

Back cover description: Cahlee Daniels and her friends break into the local swimming pool to party. But the evening ends in tragedy when one of the group falls off the diving board and dies. Since they’re underage and have been drinking, and fearing for their futures, they remove all evidence of alcohol from the scene and lie to the police about what really happened.
One year later, they are all trying to move on. However, somebody out there isn’t willing to let them do that. Somebody out there seems to know what really happened that night, and wants to make sure they never, ever forget. One by one, Cahlee’s friends are targeted and victimized, the crimes usually taking place in or near a pool – with Cahlee as the final prize.

I filed this under both “vintage YA” and “Current YA,” because while it’s a recently-published book, this definitely belongs on the same shelf as vintage Stine or Point Horror. It requires the same suspension of disbelief: these are horror-movie teens, not quite like their real world counterparts. You just have to go with that if you’re going to enjoy this book on its own terms.

It’s a self published work, and has a few of the minor weaknesses I associate with self publication (and I see the same weaknesses in my own self-pubbed work, believe me, so I’m not trying to be super critical). There’s one point when Sabrina is following Cahlee home and ducks into some bushes, and we get this line: “After a few minutes, Cahlee poked her head out form behind the bushes.” (loc 845) A good editor would have caught that, although even large publishing houses are putting stuff on the shelves with that kind of error present, so indie authors aren’t the only ones having trouble finding good editors.

I was also a little confused as to which continent the town of Howlett is meant to be on. Cahlee is casually planning to go to Harvard without any mention of relocating to another country, which suggests we’re in the USA, but the language slips into Britspeak (or possibly Aussie speak, since it sounded like my husband). “The boot was filled with alcohol” (loc 86) and “Soon it would be collected by the council and taken to the tip” (loc 426) definitely aren’t Americanisms. There are a few of those, and a few more instances where the author over-explains slang (“cutting his grass”) that’s obvious from context.

But those are extremely minor quibbles, and didn’t detract from an enjoyable read. The plot and characters were a lot of fun (the characters were at least on par with, and sometimes better developed than, most of the population of the Point Horror series).