They entered the house at 9:02 P.M. and trashed their way through the Cape Cod cottage. At 9:46 P.M. Karen Jerome made the mistake of arriving home early. Thrown down the basement stairs, Karen slips into a coma. The trashers slip away.
But The Avenger has seen it all.
In an unapologetically severe story about four boys who victimize Karen Jerome and her family, Cormier once again explores the potential for malice in all of us. The teenagers leave the Jeromes' home in ruin; Karen is assaulted and subsequently hospitalized in a coma. Not for the squeamish, Cormier's novel doesn't mince words: ``The vandals shit on the floors and pissed on the walls and trashed their way through the seven-room Cape Cod cottage.'' Like Robert Westall ( The Machine Gunners ; Blitzcat ), Cormier surpasses most other writers by the sheer force of his words. Much more than a pulp thriller, this compelling, richly textured novel is told from several points of view, including that of the vandals themselves. Cormier illuminates even the darkest characters with humanity, so that in the end, readers see the complicated fabric of life itself. Motives, thoughts and feelings are set forth--not without hope, but irrevocably tragic as well. Ages 13-up. (Oct.)