Freaks

A Novel

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Pub Date 01 Mar 2022 | Archive Date Not set

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Description

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...


Available Editions

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ISBN 9781945501531
PRICE $18.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 39 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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