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Pub Date 01 Mar 2022 | Archive Date 15 Sep 2022

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Hunted by monsters. Wanted for questioning. Late for class.

Four high-school friends suffer daily humiliation at the hands of three bullies. When the friends accidentally open a portal to another dimension, they unintentionally allow terrifying, other-worldly creatures to invade their small Arkansas town. Discovering that they are now endowed with strange superpowers, the four teens dub themselves “Freaks,” the very name their tormentors used to ridicule them. The Freaks must fight to save the lives of family and friends now in mortal peril and thwart a secret government task force that appears to be hunting them.
Hunted by monsters. Wanted for questioning. Late for class. Four high-school friends suffer daily humiliation at the hands of three bullies. When the friends accidentally open a portal to another...

Advance Praise

"A great spin on the superhero story, told with genuine depth."—Mark Waid, best-selling author of History of the Marvel Universe, Doctor Strange, and Superman Birthright.

"A fun and fresh twist on the superhero story! Fast-paced, strong characters, and twists and turns make this a must read!"—Jennifer Brody/Vera Strange, author of The 13th Continuum Trilogy, Spectre,  Deep 6, and the Disney Chills series.

"With Freaks, Brett Riley has accomplished something very few YA authors have: freakishly good writing, freakishly relatable characters, freakishly awesome premise -- all making for a freakishly great read."—M. P. Kozlowsky, author of Frost and Rose Coffin

"Freaks is propulsive and brilliantly written, with compelling characters and plenty of action. Brett Riley knows how to keep the reader’s attention."—Scott Bergstrom, author of The Cruelty and The Greed.

"Freaks begins at top speed and never lets up until the final page. Like some fascinating blend of Stranger Things and X-Men, Brett Riley’s novel explores what power means and how it is best wielded, making the book both timely and timeless. A fantastic read!"—Kevin Waltman, author of Nowhere Fast, Learning the Game, and Next

"A great spin on the superhero story, told with genuine depth."—Mark Waid, best-selling author of History of the Marvel Universe, Doctor Strange, and Superman Birthright.

"A fun and fresh twist on the...

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ISBN 9781945501531
PRICE $18.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 99 members

Featured Reviews

Imagine opening to the first page of a book, and you're met with quite the descriptive rundown of a modern day swirly. I have to admit, it's definitely not what I expected. But it DID get my attention. Freaks opens with four different teens; Micah, Jamie, Gabby and Christian. Each of them the subject to relentless bullying from the rest of their classmates. It seemed a little archaic to me, mainly because bullying nowadays seems to be through screens. But at the same time, my attention was rapt to this book.

It's geared towards YOUNG YA, so I kept having to remind myself of that throughout reading this. I'm talking like the 12-14 year old crowd. So while an adult may not be as into this as we are most YA books that are popular right now, I did recommend this to my younger sister.

The plot really gets going when this little band of misfits decide to mess around with Micah's parents old satanic stuff in his backyard. Automatic red flag y'all. (In the best way). Those poor kids must've never watched any horror movie. You NEVER mess with the creepy old dusty stuff that's locked away for a reason. Alas, they all think it's a genius move to CHANT the words in a book, inevitably affecting them all.

Over the next few days, they each develop unique powers, including their bully, Kenneth, who jumped in during the chanting to mess with them. Powers such as super strength, flying, speedy growth, and laser beams shooting out of hands. It really felt as if I was reading a comic, and the many references to Teen Titans was not lost on me.

What I enjoyed most about this book is that Brett Riley really did NOT hold back when it came to the murders in this small town. When I read books at 12ish, it felt like the ones geared specifically towards me were always fluffy or go-lucky. I think audiences in the younger YA group will enjoy the realistic factor he included to make this story flow better.

Because I don't want to spoil what happens, or give any indication to the ending, I'll end my review with this. While I clearly wasn't the audience this was intended for, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. For a short while, I felt I had gone back in time to when I first started out reading, and could grab any book I found. (I legitimately read my way through the entire school library in 6th grade). I applaud Brett Riley in his talent, and look forward to seeing what more work comes from him.

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I got this ARC of of Netgalley, these opinions are my own. I enjoyed this book. I’ve always enjoyed books related to superpowers and I think Brett Riley created on how kids could develop those. I also really enjoyed the nerd developing superpowers angle! Jamie, Michael, Christian, and Gabby were all fun protagonists, not sure how I felt about Kenneth… but maybe he had some redeeming qualities. Overall a really enjoyable book! Excited for this to come out!

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I enjoyed this story of outsiders, monsters, and friends. What a great read. Thank you for the e-arc!

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Freaks opens its first scene with a kid getting his head dunked into the toilet by his bullies, and let me just preface this review by saying that I have first hand experience with this (being the one getting closely acquainted with the bowl). So already a 12/10 for realism from me here.

A bunch of kids, all bullied nerds, play around with some occult stuff they find in a shed - and accidentally open a portal to... something. In the coming days, they develop superpowers - unfortunately, so does bully number one. Shenanigans and world-saving ensue from here, in a fun romp that reads as if Stranger Things and Ready Player One had been mashed up into one and made into a film by Steven Spielberg.

One thing that did bother me a little was that the book felt overwritten in parts. Scenes and backgrounds were described in extreme detail, without the information actually adding anything to the story. When someone goes to their room, my imagination usually fills in the details - I can infer that the person walked down the corridor and opened the door without having to be told.
Don't get me wrong, the descriptions are good; there is just a lot of them, and it slows the pace down in a story that feels like it should be told in a breathless and fast-paced manner, and I would have appreciated a lighter touch here.
What surprised me was how little of the bullying going on was cyber - I was a kid in the 80s and 90s, and the things described read a lot like what happened to me back then. But I think these days a lot of bullying happens online, and home is no longer a safe place from the bullies, because the internet follow us everywhere.

I'm also not entirely sure what the target demographic of this book is. The protagonists are 14-15, placing it in the YA realm, but the language is bordering on adult in terms of grammatical complexity and vocabulary. Now I haven't been that age or even close to it for a while, so maybe I'm just out of the loop here. But it makes me curious to see what Riley could do in terms of writing outside of the YA genre.

All in all a very fun twist on the superhero story, and I would definitely recommend it to people who love Stranger Things, Marvel and comic-book style narratives.

I want to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion.

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This book in 3 words: Vivid. Uncommon. Grisly.

Well, this one was wild. Bullied kids get their hands on some black magic and unleash some demons. The ritual gives them superpowers and world-saving is a necessity. Swipe for a full synopsis.

One of my favorite aspects of this story is how realistic and tangible it felt. We all know kids can be terrible... to others and even people they like. I thought the author nailed genuine relationships and the characters were fun to read.

This book is dark and delicious in the best way. The author took this book in whatever direction he wanted, and I absolutely loved a lot of the details.

I'm a little unsure of the targeted age group for this story. Our main characters are in the 9th grade but the content is brutal at times, and the writing is smooth and mature. Sounds like it's meant to be for 12-14 year olds, but it's kind of dark, but I enjoyed it. Overall, a solid read.

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Four high-school friends suffer daily humiliation at the hands of three bullies. When the friends accidentally open a portal to another dimension, they unintentionally allow terrifying, other-worldly creatures to invade their small Arkansas town. Discovering that they are now endowed with strange superpowers, the four teens dub themselves “Freaks,” the very name their tormentors used to ridicule them. The Freaks must fight to save the lives of family and friends now in mortal peril and thwart a secret government task force that appears to be hunting them.

I was totally sold on the blurb for this book, who doesn’t love an underdog who finally gets their chance, add in a mixture of superhero powers and evil monsters and you have a recipe for success.

I really wanted to LOVE this book but it only fell into the ‘quite like’ category for me. Yes, it was filled with tension and action (and some hecka brutal violent scenes which I loved) but there was just something missing for me.

I felt like I couldn’t fully connect with the characters (I just couldn’t believe in them as much as I wanted to) and this evolved into irritation… they felt like generic stock characters with no real substance and because it was so character driven, the novel then fell flat. I wanted more from the characters, more depth, more grit.

Nevertheless, it was an interesting read/concept and Riley can def create a terrifying monster.

#bookreviewsbymrsc #freaks #brettriley

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Really enjoyable. The "superhero" theme was just up my street. Loved the underdog idea.
Really hope there is a freaks 2!!

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Freaks is about a group of four geeks who have been bullied for as long as they can remember. Micah can’t take it anymore and is on the verge of snapping. After finding some old and mystical looking books and robes in a chest in his shed, Micah invites his friends around to play a game, pretending they are going to put a spell on their bullies. Instead they open a portal to another dimension, letting through a horrible Vampire-like being and in the process they gain powers of their own.

I really enjoyed this book. It starts with each of the main characters getting a solo chapter giving a brief introduction and showing them getting bullied. It felt incredibly real and brought back some memories that I had forgotten about. Since starting this book last week, they have been circling around in my head and I think that just goes to show how well-written this book is.

I like superhero stories and I like horror and this mixes them well together. When the horror starts is brutal and gory in the best way. The superhero stuff also feels good. The big fight towards the end is great and given a long time to breathe.

Micah is the most interesting character. He has been pushed to his limit, bringing a gun to one of his weekly game nights with his friends. The others panic when they see it and try to talk him down, but the rest of his character arc is really well done. It’s a really different take on a superhero and I think it will be really interesting where it goes from here.

This is really easy to read and the pages flew by. The dialogue is punchy the action is great. I do think the middle section of the book is a little weaker than the great opening and action packed ending, but it’s all building to the climax.

I would recommend this to fans of superhero stories, horror and especially fans of Darren Shan. It’s a great read and I’m looking forward to book 2.

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Thank you to Imbrifex Books and Netgalley for providing a free e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Freaks by Brett Riley is the perfect mix of comic book superhero and fantasy novel however the heroes aren't a group of well trained, picture ready adults: this time, it's five young teenagers, four of whom are bullied relentlessly by the other. But when a live action role-play goes wrong, all five of them find themselves with much bigger problems on their hands than their latest algebra test.

The story is well paced and the plot holds a lot of promise, with just the right amount of twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes throughout however the characters, unfortunately, are what let this novel down. There is very little dimension to them and, even in the small details we see of their home lives - an unhappy home life, a potential for romance - the characters remain completely un-fleshed out and, as a result, unlikeable.

The second world we are introduced to holds such promise, yet we do not see much of it and only through the eyes of the creature who was grossly underdeveloped. He was, however, the only character I felt myself rooting for.

The deaths are detailed and grizzly, in stark comparison to the otherwise middle grade style of the novel which adds a strange disconnect to the story, making it seem clunky and uncertain at times.

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I enjoyed the basic premise of this book: kids with super powers going up against something they themselves accidentally called into this world. The villain was intriguing and kept me wondering about its origin world...
But I think that was what I enjoyed. I'm less sure of the execution. I found myself cheering more for the Go'kan, hoping they'd pick off all of the main characters, whom I kept mixing up. I do not feel like there were several main characters - Gabby and Christian kept blending into each other. The further I got, theore they still looked like bullied kids rather that people who all had their own separate identity. And Kenneth remained "the bullier" rather than someone with character traits. I'm also not quite sure how this is going to work as a series, but that might just be because I'm not super excited about this book. I think it might have been better to simply have resolved everything if the big bad evil (Prince, in this case) is defeated, or keep it open ended to what will happen to this world, because I'm a little scared the other books will just turn out to be very similar to this one.

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Good news and bad news. I think this is a good story about bullied kids getting superpowers. The bad news is that I didn't like any main character in the book. After awhile, I rooted for the monster to devour every one of them.

There is no law that says the main characters have to be likable. But, they do have to be interesting. The bullied kids were physically and emotionally abused, but they were insulting and belittling to each other, too. They were bored by their teachers, bored by their parents, bored by pretty much everything, and their answer to anything was, "Whatever." Haven't they ever heard the phrase, "A bored person is a boring person?" The most annoying kid was even mad that his poverty-stricken, overworked mother bought him a desktop rather than a laptop computer. Maybe 15-year-olds are bored and mad at everything, but I don't want to read about it.

Honestly, I wanted to start bullying these kids because they weren't even nice to each other. And, the bully friends weren't nice to each other either. And, the Feds weren't nice to each other. Nobody was nice to each other. Just let the monster eat them all.

It's an exciting story, but I couldn't drum up any sympathy for 98% of the characters. Whether bad guys or good guys, they complained, they insulted, they were bored. They set fire to whole bunches of trees! Yikes! Their grammar was horrid, even the one who was college bound. Two more books are coming in the series. I hope the superpowered kids get a little humanity.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for allowing me to review this eARC .

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Thanks to Netgalley and Imbrifex Books for this copy of Freaks by Brett Riley to review. This book is out March 2022 and I would definitely keep an eye out for it.
Freaks is about a group of friends who have been bullied for years by the same three people and what happens when they are LARPing and cast a spell from a book found hidden in an old chest and all that follows. Of course their main antagonist gets caught up in the spell casting too and that gives them all something in common when they find they now have super powers.
But what have they done? What have they unleashed in their town?
This book was in some ways very much what I was expecting after reading the blurb, it’s my kind of book for sure. But it also really surprised me with some things that happened, I’m not sure why but there were definitely some “Did that really just happen?!” moments.
Most of the characters have issues, which is kind of expected really. How would you deal with getting super powers after years of being bullied? I’m interested in how they get on in future books.

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An interesting read and take on the superhero story. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves marvel or comic books.

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It isn't bad at all but reads a little younger than I was expecting. Great for a lower age group I think.

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Freaks is the first book in a new YA fantasy hero/horror series by Brett Riley. Fast paced action centred around a group of picked upon high school kids who gain powers and fight against the monster they bring into the world, while dealing with issues of friendship, bullying and betrayal. Adult fans of superheroes and fantasy books don’t miss out, you are going to enjoy this book as well. I couldn’t put the book down and can’t wait for the next in the series.

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This was an interesting read. I think it would work for a younger audience then intended, except for the swearing.

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It's a little outdated but still a nice read! The characters were really relatable and the premise was quite interesting.

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A spooky teenage story if I ever read one.
A group of friends accidentally summoning a demon and gaining superpowers? Sing me up for that.
But this story is much more than that. What we see firsthand is a tale of friendship, high school struggles and forgiveness. The characters that you can relate to on many levels only add to the experience.
And along with a deep story, you get a really action-packed plot that keeps you on edge through every page.
All in all, this is a beautiful and exciting read that I would recommend to every ya book loving person

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A clever and fresh twist on the superhero genre.
The book follows four teenagers who are both physically and verbally abused for being different at school. After they decide enough is enough, they recant a spell from an old grimoire without translating it from Latin, and summon an ancient demon who's out for blood.
It's a strong book, with graphic descriptions that will leave you on the edge of your seat until it's over.
Just don't read it before bed.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Imbrifex Books for the opportunity to read this in advance.

I requested this one because I'd had the chance to read an advance copy of Brett Riley's "Lord of Order" and honestly thought it was one of the most imaginative and nuanced post-apocalyptic novels I've ever read.

This one is obviously very different and while not especially my cup-of-tea, I think retains the same level of imagination and connection with current events that the author brought to "Lord of Order."

I think it leans way more towards YA reading than I enjoy - and the main characters and setting make that an understandable directions - so I found it more of a struggle to complete than I imagined I would.

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it was definitely a interesting read with all the real life bullying kids usually face and how sometimes all we want is to escape!! i really enjoyed the book and cant wait to read more from the author

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Thanks to NetGalley and the Imbrifex books for providing this copy of Freaks in exchange for an honest review. This is the story of four teenagers Jamie, Michael, Christian, and Gabby, who are often bullied. To vent their anger they practice by accident an arcane ritual that gives them supernatural powers but also sets loose a freakish otherworldly creature that starts feasting brutally on people who cross it's path. Also present at the ritual was Kenneth, one of their tormentors, and he too gains superpowers, which causes a rift between him and his bullying friends. The question is will the "Freaks" be able to let go of the bad blood between them to fight off the monster, and will they be able to keep their new powers hidden.

This was a very cinematic action driven straightforward read with a little gore on the side. But it also felt a little too familiar and clichéd. Do bullies really shove kids heads in toilets? I've mostly come across it on TV and Film, not thank heaven in real life. Cyberbullying is mentioned offhandedly in the middle of the book, but most of the harassments portrayed are very physical and somehow felt a little too old school. There are some interesting questions raised about bullying and the desire for payback, with the story indorsing a more forgiving approach and paints the one kid who is hankering for revenge as a self centered fool. All in all, a simple read predictable and fun.

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Freaks start off with bullying, which has been a problem in schools for…well, forever. But what is odd is the type of bullying that is on display here. The type of bullying described sounds like it would be more inline with the bullying seen in schools during the 70s or 80s, not modern day. That being said, I was willing to roll with it, after all I’m sure there are plenty of old school bullies out there. Who’s being bullied? A group of four friends, self described nerds/geeks, though I must admit that some of the things they are being bullied for seems odd. For liking Marvel superhero movies? Really? I thought everyone liked those. Later, while messing around with a book belonging to one of the main character’s uncles, the four teens perform a cryptic ritual and end up opening some sort of portal which ends up giving them superpowers. Not only them, but one of the bullies as well, and of course something evil slips through as well. The four friends, as well as the bully who now feels like an outcast as well, suddenly have to deal with their new found powers, and of course save the day. I have to say the book seems to have a bit of an identity crisis. On one hand I love the idea of the kids suddenly getting powers (it would have been the exact thing I daydreamed about when I was young ….okay fine I still daydream about it, lol) and yet the language used seems geared toward an older audience. Overall I thought it was a fun if somewhat flawed story, but as I said, I’m also not entirely sure who Mr Riley’s target audience is. I think this is just the kind of story my youngest nephew would enjoy, and while I’m no prude or anything, I wouldn’t want him reading something with so much mature language.
I’d like to thank NetGalley and Imbrifex Books for the opportunity to read and review an eARC of Freaks.

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Imbrifex Books! All opinions are my own!

A group of friends has been bullied for their differences for years. But when they accidentally open a portal to another dimension and discover that they have new superpowers, they think this might be their chance. But when other things crept through the portal, what will it take for them to protect the world?

I really have to say that I enjoyed the premise of this book! It was a refreshing take on the high school coming of age story, especially with the fantasy elements! There was also a lot of different representation in the book, and I appreciated that the characters were all so different and special.

I think my biggest issue with the book was that the characters just weren't likable for me. I don't know if they felt one-dimensional or if it was just their personalities, probably a bit of both. It just decreased the enjoyment and made me not really care or particularly root for them in their struggles. I just found myself being uncomfortable by a lot of their choices/reactions, and that really took away from the overall experience.

If you like coming-of-age stories with a little bit of fantasy, this might be the book for you!

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An okay monster/superhero YA book; though not one that I would recommend for small or focused collections. Na'ul's world/background/ felt like it could have been fleshed out or explored more. And the treatment that the three bullies dolled out felt more old school and extreme for current day; a lot of the interactions/reactions felt very forced to me. I like the concept of this book, just feel like it wasn't as well fleshed out as it could have been.

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This was my introduction to Brett Riley, the great thing is that you will not have to wait too long for the second book, and there are a few sneak peeks of book two at the end of Freaks. The book "Freaks" does a great job as the first book of a series, you get the dynamics of the characters involved, you are invested in what is happening and their emotions and pains. There is pain involved, my heart hurt and sunk, in various chapters. You can't help rooting for some of the characters, and that emotional conflict that takes place in a high school. The imagery and all that transpired within the first book is a lot, you get it all at once which is good, there is no slowing down, and you really don't want to be slowing down with this book.

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Thanks for this e-arc.
Freaks tells us the story of a group of friends who are constantly being harassed by B3.

I liked the story, the powers of each one. I congratulate the author for writing this story.

I must confess that it took a long time to read it. In moments, which were very few, I got bored and stopped reading.

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this book was just okay for me. The descriptions of bullying were intense (and right on the first page), but the characters all felt a little flat and blended together for me.

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This was a story about the victims of a group of bullies, who through an accident become endowed with superpowers and decide to get a little payback on the bullies.
If only a human eating monster hadn’t come through a portal they accidentally opened when chanting from an old magic book
This was an easy read, at times reading young middle grade but then at times with death scenes reading older YA.
There is room for a sequel as each character could be developed further.
I’m interested to read the next book in this series to see what develops.
Thank you to NetGalley and Imbrifex Books for an advance copy to read and review.

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A reasonably entertaining story but I feel it lacked some depth. The characters and their problems felt somewhat two dimensional. It might hold the interest of middle graders (upper primary for Australia) but I feel it would fall short for a young adult audience. There was certainly plenty of action, especially towards the end. The storyline itself has plenty of merit but I just feel the telling of the story could have reached greater heights.

I received this arc from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

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I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Freaks introduces you to four high-school friends who are bullied on a daily basis. Some of which I can only assume weren't pleasant but then again - is being bullied ever pleasant? I think not. Then one day they accidentally open up a portal to a whole new world and they go on an adventure.

I'll admit that I got those Ready Player One vibes while reading this one. It definitely made this book a bit more interesting to me but that's basically it. The superpowers and the characters themselves could be interesting at times. It just felt like I either got too much information or not enough when it came to certain things.

Other than that, things did tend to end up being a smidge predictable here and there. I also liked how realistic the bullying was throughout this, but I do wonder why cyber was left out? Maybe Brett had a reason to do so? Maybe we will get another book? Who knows?

In the end, I'm happy that I got the chance to dive into this world and look forward to whatever Brett creates next!

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I really enjoyed the beginning of this book and wanted to fully enjoy it a lot more than I ended up liking it. I feel like it dragged a little towards the middle and the end did fall a little flat for me. I do think this would make a great series, either shows or even graphic novels? I do love the story idea and think it has so much potential.

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The idea behind this book intrigued me. I found the pacing of the book was quick and the plot was easy to follow. My issue with the book was the likability of the main characters. I also founds the reasons they were bullied to be outdated.

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This book centres around a group of teens who have been relentlessly bullied for years and end up accidentally getting superpowers and bringing creatures from other dimensions into ours.

The main characters in this book were really diverse and unique from each other. All of them dealt with their bullying in very different ways.

It was also interesting to see how each of the characters dealt with getting their powers and how they planned on using them. The dynamics between everyone was really tense at times.

I felt like the story was well paced. We got some information about who our main characters were before launching into the story.

I'm really looking forward to reading the sequel to see how our characters develop and see what else they have to endure and face.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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Freaks was such a fun reading!
I really liked the concept and the premise of bullied-sick kids getting superpowers but their bully also getting superpowers and how he change because of that is so cool and the way each character had a very unique relationship with their new abilities.
I had a great time and felt like watching a cool kid gang movie from the 80s.
Also the writing is so smooth anyone can read.
Highly recommended !!!

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Book Review: Freaks – Brett Riley

Disclaimer: I was kindly gifted an eARC of this book via Netgally in exchange for an honest review.

Freaks follows four high school friends that have been bullied all their lives. One day they are messing around and accidently open a portal to another dimension. In the process, they develop superpowers, but this portal also leaves an opening for a dark entity to creep through. Now they must decide whether to use their new found powers to get revenge on their school bullies that have tormented them for so many years or if they will use their powers for good to help defeat the monster that has crept through the portal and been wreaking havoc on their town.

The premise of this book is what drew me in. It’s reminded me of the TV series Stranger Things, and I am a huge fan of that show so naturally I was so excited for this book.

The writing is easy to follow, and the story progresses at a great pace. Unfortunately, I didn’t connect with any of the characters. They felt very 2D and didn’t feel relatable. Its very plot driven and there is not much character development. Gabby and Jamie were the only two characters that I actually cared about but not enough that I would remember their story after I had closed the book.

The time period of the book was also very confusing for me. This story was supposed to be set in the modern day, but it felt very outdated and unrealistic. The friends are bullied for being ‘superhero’s’ and called ‘geeks’. There is also not much mention of social media at all. This made me feel like the story was taking place in the past and not the present time.

The main element that captured my attention was the monster and its origin. Sadly, we didn’t get to learn much about the monster or its origin, however, this is said to be a series so maybe we will learn more about the monster in the next installments.

This book is for you if you like:
• Coming of age stories
• Superhero’s
• Found family trope

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3.5/5 I received an ebook ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

This was an interesting read, with a good premise--bullied kids get superpowers, but also bring in a malevolent being that wants to hunt them and all mankind down. And one of the bullies also gets powers, and seeing how the dynamics between the bullied and bully change (or don't) was well done.

But certain parts rang a bit hollow--the reasons why the kids were being bullied, for example, are more what kids were bullied for in the 70s/80s; being a geek or a nerd just doesn't make kids social pariahs nowadays, and certainly not to the point portrayed in this book. It would've been nice to get a little more character insight into each of the kids, if only to help distinguish them beyond their powers.

A good read, overall, especially for people who like superhero/superpowers stories.

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I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. What drew my eye to this book was the amazing cover and the description! I was so thrilled to read this book, but I will admit that some of the languages were outdated and the bullies bland. I could see that the author was open with a lesbian character, but I grow tired of the lesbian stereotypes by not being like other girls and that she is so different. What's the point of that? Like okay, we get it. But besides that, I think that this was a solid plot and the action was good. I enjoyed this book a lot once I got past the annoying Cliches. I would recommend this to readers.

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A book with a lot of plot twists and things that make us attach to the characters. I really loved the sci-fi vibe and the main character. Just captivates me.

The only thing I didn't like was how it ended. I don't know if it will have a second book, but it was too "open" for interpretation, and I think that a second book could fix this.

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This book gave me major Jumanji vibes but with a dark twist! I loved the dark creatures and how the “Freaks” had to solve the whole story.
Generally I’m a lover of the Misfits and Nerds and Freaks so this book was perfect for me!
The whole set up in the town of Arkansas was lovely and gave the plot what it needed.
I really loved the ending and I can’t wait for another book by this author!

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Freaks was a pleasant surprise! While I was reading the story, I made a reading update saying this book reminded me of superheroes and teen horror (still unsure if I invented this genre.) Later one of my friends compared this to Stranger Things and Marvel and I wholeheartedly agree. That is precisely the vibe I was getting. Fitting, since those are two things I love watching—especially Stranger things, which is perhaps why I loved the protagonists so much. The friend dynamic and small town setting were similar, although their roles and predicament were different.

The story’s written in six different POVs (the four friends, Kenneth, and the monster), but it’s easy to understand which character’s perspective we’re following. It’s difficult to choose a favorite, because I sympathized with the “freaks” in many ways, but I do admit that I particularly enjoyed Kenneth’s chapters and the monster’s a lot. Kenneth is a bully, so you understand why he wasn’t my favorite person at first, but out of the characters, he’s the one who had the biggest character development (and Gabby, the meek girl who becomes braver and more determined at the end.) The monster’s chapters were good simply because they were different, gruesome, scary. I cringed while I was reading, but it’s the kind of horror you look at with one eye open because despite it’s scary, you can’t bring yourself to look away.

The writing made me feel as if I were watching a movie, or a show. I later found out by reading the author’s bio that he’s a screenwriter, which is fitting. I truly believe this story could be a great concept for a show, since there’s going to be another two books in the series. The characters are interesting, and they have a lot to show.

Thank you to the author and the publisher for gifting me a copy. Opinions are my own.

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NetGalley AEC Educator 550974

This book will enthrall fans of DC, Marvel and Stranger Things. The content might trigger some who have been bullied. I had no issue following the storyline, some of the switches can be confusing to some, however once you get the voice of the character the book is an easy read. Can't wait for the next installment.

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I had fun in reading this story, I found it entertaining and well plotted.
I liked the world building and the characters.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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For lovers of Chronicle and Stranger Things, this young adult fantasy novel will keep you riveted and turning pages well into the night. A supernatural threat is released when a group of misfit tees read from an arcane tome. Trigger warnings: themes of violence and gore as well as bullying and foul language

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As an Arkansan, I wanted to LOVE this book. The characters sound like me when I speak and are very relatable. I can even relate to the imaginary community haven visited Drew County, Arkansas recently. It feels like any rural community in Arkansas. The bullying aspect is realistic but I do not see it as being dealt with in a healthy way. I think the primary bully and his counterpart should make amends and build a healthy relationship. It seems the tension between the rest of the "Freaks" and the bullies never resolves like we would want a real -life relationship to. I also wanted more depth to relationships among the "geeks." Extending the story to a sequel seems forced, but hopefully some of these issues will be developed and resolved. Again, I am partial to this novel because of the setting. I will definitely be reading the sequel!

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Real Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

I can’t decide if this book is a cautionary tale, a revenge story, or a superhero origin tale. I don’t really think the book itself knows either. Maybe we’re not meant to really know at this point, because it’s the first book in a series, but I don’t think that’s a good thing, considering the author had a whole book to lay down a path and just chose to muddy waters for almost 300 pages.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s an entertaining book. It just takes too long getting to the point and only two of the characters are in any way close to fully-developed, and those two characters are the ones in which the plot pivots around. Maybe that’s the problem: in the end we will either find this series was far too long and should’ve been condensed into fewer books, or we will feel like each book should’ve been longer so the characters could’ve been developed further and allowed their on time and space on the page and have more of the story devoted to them. As the book stands, some of the characters feel like they’re there only for their respective superpowers and demographic representation than anything else. Arguably, you could almost remove them from the story entirely and with a few story tweaks and the addition of more angst and maybe violence you would end up with the same outcome. It sucks to say, but there it is.

But if you look at the book from the viewpoint of the demographic group it’s marketed toward, it’s sure to be a book they’d like to read. It’s definitely a YA book for YA readers. This isn’t a YA book for adults who enjoy YA books, in my opinion. The narrative, plot, and prose are just a bit too immature and underdeveloped for that. But pre-adolescents and younger adolescents will eat up the main plot and the superpowers.

The second book in this series, “Travelers”, comes out in August, and I already have the ARC. I’ll have that review for you this summer. Thanks to NetGalley and Imbrifex Books for early access to this title in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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This was a good YA read, I liked the superhero element and the coming of age of the characters. It dealt with some dark subject matters like bullying and was fast paced

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Overall Rating: 3/5

Freaks by Brett Riley is story about four best friends who are the outcasts of their high school, always the target of bullies and all just a ‘little different’ – one night they decide to play about with a spell book resulting in them all gaining superpowers and unleashing an evil upon their hometown.

The whole book gave me super Stranger Things vibes, small town syndrome with kids into D&D/LARPing thrown into the mix who need to band together to fight off a big evil. The initial plot of the book was very interesting, and the monster concept was cool! however it kind of ended there for me.

I wasn’t all that convinced by the high school bully efforts – all seemed very dated ‘head flushed down the toilet’ kind of thing and for a group of seemingly four best friends – I got the vibe that they didn’t really like each other? I didn’t warm to any of them, and I’ll say it, Micah was just downright horrible - I get that he was bullied horrendously and maybe you were supposed to sympathise with him because of this, but I really couldn’t.

Overall, I think maybe this books demographic just isn’t me! I think for younger readers who are into supernatural books they would love this and find it enjoyable. And no doubt the author will continue to expand on these characters and world – after all we have 4 new superheroes now!

Thanks to NetGalley and the editors at Imbrifex books for providing this copy of Freaks in exchange for an honest review.

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This book is what would happen if some scientists got bored one day in the lab and decided to mix up one part sci-fi, one part superhero, and a tiny little dash of horror.

Here's the thing: it's a YA novel. It has a cast of teenage characters who do stupid and overdramatic and angsty stuff. The main characters are "freaks", they're social outcasts, they get picked on all the time, they're holding a lot of anger and pain inside. Enter a chest of dusty old tomes full of horrifying illustrations and Latin chants. MCs, being young and stupid and angsty, decide it will be fun to pretend to be sorcerers and read out one of the chants. As you can imagine, bad things then happen.

My thought process while reading this book:
Oh, a teen revenge thriller.
Oh, OK, maybe it's horror, they're going to summon a demon to do their bidding or something.
Oh, wait, they summoned something that somehow gave them all superhero-esque powers.
Oh, and also apparently they opened a rift and sucked in some...well, not demons. Beings from alternate dimensions or something.
So...a thriller-horror-superhero-sci-fi/fantasy novel? OK....

The weird thing is, though this book kind of annoyed me with it's genre-hopping and it's YA characters (who, while being thoroughly steeped in teen hormones and drama, still manage to be fairly useless until the last quarter of the book or so), though it should have been one I didn't like...

The secret is, I did kind of like it.

It was fun and weird and completely unbelievable in an over-the-top way. It felt like the story that would happen if two or three teenage sci-fi nerds got together and just laid around for an afternoon making stuff up, one-upping each other with powers and enemies and love triangles.

I can't believe I'm saying this but...I liked this story and I want to read the next one (an excerpt of book two is included at the end).

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Four high-school friends suffer daily humiliation at the hands of three bullies. When the friends accidentally open a portal to another dimension, they unintentionally allow terrifying, other-worldly creatures to invade their small Arkansas town. Discovering that they are now endowed with strange superpowers, the four teens dub themselves “Freaks,” the very name their tormentors used to ridicule them. The Freaks must fight to save the lives of family and friends now in mortal peril and thwart a secret government task force that appears to be hunting them.

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This story is okay. It starts our strong but I think it just falters some by the end. It’s a great idea and a great story, it just needed something a little more.
When four high school friends, all of which are tormented by three bullies, accidentally open a portal to another dimension, they accidentally allow other worldly creatures to invade their little town in Arkansas. They also learn that somehow while chanting the words that opened the portal they themselves have some new superhuman powers.
Now, they are calling themselves “Freaks” using the name their tormentors gave them. They must now fight to save the lives of all those they love, and even those they don’t, from mortal danger and they also have to stop the government task force that seems to be hunting them.
This book had so much promise and it delivered a little over half the time. It’s well written and the characters are memorable so I would say if you have the time go ahead and check it out. If you like audio books, the narrator is excellent and does add a little something to the story.

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Brett Riley’s YA fantasy/thriller Freaks is about a group of high school students who, after years of bullying, get abilities and must battle a terrifying otherworldly entity. This novel, in my opinion, is better suited to the upper young adult – or new adult age bracket. Even though the protagonists in the novel are just teens, they are subjected to severe bullying and witness gruesome murders throughout the story. Gabby, Christian, Jamie, and Micah are four nerdy best friends who have always been singled out by their peers, particularly the B3 trio. Known as freaks, they get even closer as friends as a result of this mutual experience. While playing live-action role-playing one night, the four discovered some odd and hidden props in Micah’s shed. Kenneth, a member of the bully gang B3, stood there, oblivious to the harm he was causing. They had no idea that by utilizing these relics, they had unintentionally opened a doorway to another realm, enabling horrific monsters to enter.

This was a basic, cinematic action-driven read with a dash of gore thrown in for good measure. However, it felt a little too cliched and typical. Although cyberbullying is referenced casually in the middle of the novel, most of the harassment shown is fairly physical and feels a little too old school. There are some intriguing concerns highlighted regarding bullying and the need for vengeance, with the novel advocating for a more forgiving attitude and portraying the one youngster who desires vengeance as a self-centered fool. I found it difficult to connect with the characters. The conversation and attitudes of the characters were incredibly out of date, and given that this novel is meant to be set in the present day, it didn’t seem remotely believable to me. They’re meant to be best friends, yet none of them are polite to one other. There were also other remarks made by both the main and supporting characters that were just rude and, in many cases, casually misogynistic. Given that this is a children’s novel, incorporating them without confronting them or having the characters learn from their remarks made me uneasy.

The creature and its origin were the key elements that drew my interest. Unfortunately, we didn’t discover much about the monster or its origins; but, as this is a series, we may learn more about the creature in future chapters. For this reader, the issue boils down to the crucial matter of genre, and by extension, target audience. It matters as I stated at the outset. It matters as I stated at the outset. It matters because libraries, instructors, and parents will be the ones to shell out the cash to buy these publications. They will also be harassed by parents who disapprove of the subject, which is sometimes far too adult for YA literature.

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There is nothing actually wrong with this book. It is perfectly serviceable... and as a middle-grade power fantasy with some horror elements, it is fine. The problem is that it does feel as if the plot and characters have been done before (in better ways). A story like this needs a hook, and unfortunately, this story failed at that mostly because it felt too familiar to hook me. The characters felt like archetypes rather than fleshed out beings in this world, the plot felt a bit recycled from a couple of popular TV shows and the world-building felt all over the place. Having said all that, the actual writing was good and pacey, I wasn't bored reading this and even though I wasn't surprised, I also wasn't disappointed. It all adds up to a fairly run-of-the-mill story about the nerdy kids and superpowers that I wouldn't recommend over so many other great books, but wouldn't discourage anyone from reading if they really wanted to.

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This is a YA novel for ages 14 and up. I was given the privilege to read this as an advanced release copy by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The book is about these four high school kids who are the outcasts for varying reasons. They are bullied by three boys in particular.

The kids are meeting together to play games. They go out to one kid’s shed and discover some cloaks and magic books in an old chest. They put on the cloaks and start reading one of the books. They unleash a spell that opens up another dimension, which allows a beast to come into their world. But that isn’t all… they are somehow bestowed powers.

This monster wreaks havoc in the town. It is hunting “lesser beings” to feed on. The kids soon discover what they have done and they are trying to work out how to use their powers to defeat the monster. They also have to learn to work together with one of their bullies.

There’s a bit of teenage angst, some magic, a big scary monster, super powers, a smidge of romance.

I’m not sure if it was meant to be a magical story or super hero story.

It was an alright story. However it seemed very juvenile. I can see how a young teen would enjoy this, but for an older adult, there is not enough beef to the story.

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So this book is aimed for children. So I would have probably enjoyed it a whole lot more if I was younger.

The plot of this story was interesting. It was hard for me to get into the story at first because it was quite slow I felt. The story isn't finished there is a 2nd book.

Thank you netgalley and Brett Riley for the copy.

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There were several comments in this book that were sexist, which I didn't think I would find in a book written in 2021, considering that this is also targeted towards younger audiences. The way that the characters refer to other boys as a 'pussy' (,etc.) and girls as 'such a girl' are both outdated and wrong to include in a book where these phrases aren't challenged, and where the characters don't learn from their mistakes

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This wasn't a book a usually read but I enjoyed it, it was also the first book I have read from Brett Riley. I really liked the world that Riley built and the characters was really interesting. The way the characters interacted with each other was great as well. I can't wait to read the next one.

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I quite enjoyed this book - it was a fun, interesting ready overall. The storyline was easy to follow and kept my attention.

Unfortunately it felt a little cliche at times and like I could see what was coming from a mile away.

Plus, it felt a little like we didn’t get to learn as much about the monsters as we could have.

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I enjoyed seeing characters in the novel that I don't normally see represented in YA novels (or at least the ones I read). These characters live in a small, rural town and sound like it! They don't fit in for one reason or another, and of course, the story really takes off when they become empowered. I think the bullying piece is interesting, in that there are some consequences, but not necessarily for all, or in the way we'd expect.

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I just thought this was a fun look at the hero genre, and how powers can manifest. I really enjoyed the writing and the world, it just didn't happen to be a new favourite.

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The narration is fine.
The story is fine.
The characters are fine.
It's an entertaining read.
No more.

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3.5 stars 🌟

I really enjoyed this one!

(Text version is far better than the audiobook)

*Superhero powers
*Monster fighting
*Freshmen year
*(mostly) Annoying characters(?)
*Weird junk food obsession from the author
*Monster POV
*Stranger Things feel
*Should've been set in the 80s/90s

(?) It's strange when you actually prefer the bully over the "heroes".
Favourite character: Kenneth - the beginnings of a good character arc, I hope.
Character to watch: Micah - will be interesting to see which direction his character goes.
Least favourite character: Christian - I'm sorry but she's the most annoying of the bunch.

Setting and time wise, it had a great feel about it. Felt like the 80s or 90s. But then every time something modern was mentioned, I was pulled out. So, I do agree with those saying this feels "dated" in many ways. I think it definitely would have benefited from being set in an earlier decade.

The characters are young and shallow, and the writing is simple. The dialouge is cringy but I guess that's how young teens would talk. It feels perfect for a young audience who like a bit of monster gore (I didn't think is was too much, personally). It was actually the profanity that I found the most troubling.

Overall it was enjoyable, simple fun. I plan to continue the series.

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I thought the book was ok. It wasn't the best or the worse story I ever read. I loved the powers each character get. I think the plot was good but I wasn't really falling hard for any of the characters. I would say Jamie is my favorite character and Micah I didn't really care that much for. I am currently reading Travellers and so far it feels like a 3 to 3.5 stars.

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Was a fun read, I really enjoyed the pacing of the plot and the characters. I would recommend reading.

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This is one of those stories where the bullied become the threat, and it goes about how you'd expect.

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