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Literature / Jackie and Craig

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"Wherever we go, Hell seems to follow."

Jackie and Craig is a Young Adult Horror/Urban Fantasy novel by Kent J. Starrett, published on Devil's Eve of 2017. The story follows the hell-raising tomboy Jacqueline Parker and the perpetually terrified Craig Steiger, two grossly mismatched sixth-grade friends who discover that bizarre creatures emerge during the night in their hometown. Taking it upon themselves to clear Shadow Creek of its unholy infestation, Jackie and Craig set about creating an arsenal of improvised weaponry to slaughter their way through the hordes of progressively trippier and trippier "abominations" as they try to win friends to help in their lone stand against the increasingly oppressive otherworldly onslaught. It was followed by a sequel two years later, Teenage Wastelands: The Rise and Fall of the Sky Valley Cult, which took a different direction and focused on the surviving characters facing a compound full of savage, warmongering psychic teenagers.


This novel provides examples of:

  • The '90s: Takes place sometime in the late spring/early summer of 1997.
  • Aerith and Bob: Jackie, Craig, Amy and Will are stuck slumming it with Talon, Screech and Fang for the middle third of the novel.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Fang is implied to have a creepy crush on Craig, though it's not dwelled upon for very long.
  • Admiring the Abomination: Jackie's a bit taken with the creatures, at first.
  • Alien Blood: Creatures bleed black, grey, translucent, electrical sparks, and (in one case) flammable fuel of some kind, presumably to prevent the book from traumatizing its target preteen audience. Whether this is more or less traumatizing, be the judge.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Late-90's homophobia shows up here and there, as do words like "retard" and other now very unacceptable terms.
  • Disappeared Dad: Craig's dad vanished when he was ten. It's implied he abandoned them because of something "wrong" with Craig, though what exactly he didn't like is never made clear.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Jackie's parents are dead, Craig's mom works all the time, and all the other potential moral guardians are very amoral and do very little guarding.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Compared to the rest of the Franchise, this one is markedly different. This is a quirky, coming-of-age horror/comedy and the rest of the franchise is a Diesel Punk Urban Fantasy about gangs of feral (sometimes supernaturally powerful) children at war with an insidious secret society. It extends even to the style - Jackie and Craig is all from Craig's perspective and The Rise and Fall of the Sky Valley Cult hops point-of-view to reveal more of the setting and history. Nothing about Jackie And Craig implies the world it takes place in is anything other than The '90s with cryptids running around, while the Alternate History aspects of Sky Valley are completely integral to the plotline.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Monsters are disemboweled, decapitated, dismembered, skull-split, set ablaze and dissected. But they're not human, and they bleed black or green, so the effect is lessened...somewhat.
  • Free-Range Children: Parents seem almost nonexistent in this world.
  • Foreshadowing: Jackie's constantly 'blasting' off her inhaler, and an asthma attack is ultimately what kills her in the end.
  • Framing Device: A fictionalized Kent John Starrett frames the story as having been something Craig actually recounted to him, hence the colloquial language the book is told in.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: Humans vs. Monsters for territory and mere survival. There's really not much outside of biology to seperate the two, and Will makes a point of the irony of this.
  • Hellish Pupils: Chupacabras have red eyeshine, while Parachildren have white ones.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: Chapter Five, "Preparing For War," is this for Jackie and Craig, as is "Syzygy" for the friend group in general.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Jackie listens to hard rock and heavy metal, steals and swears like a sailor, while Craig is terribly sensitive, quiet and (when he does talk) nervously soft-spoken.