Review: Clown in a Cornfield 2: Frendo Lives by Adam Cesare

Review by Eliza

This review first appeared at Leviathan Libraries.

It’s been a year since the brutal slayings at Tillerson’s B-field claimed dozens of lives. Quinn, Rust, and Cole have all moved forward, but none have exactly moved on. They’re coping with trauma while trying to do the things expected of recent high school grads.

When Rust and Cole visit Quinn at college in Philadelphia, nothing goes according to plan. A brutal assault at a party there has them reeling, and before they’ve had a chance to recover, another attack forces Quinn, Rust, and Cole home to Kettle Springs. Is there a conspiracy against them, or has Cole’s dad—presumed dead after the assault the previous year—risen from the grave to get revenge?

Title: Clown in a Cornfield 2: Frendo Lives | Series: Clown in a Cornfield | Publisher: HarperTeen | Pub Date: 2022-08-23 | Pages: 416 | ISBN13/ASIN: 978-0063096912 | Genre: YA Horror | Language: English | Source: NetGalley | Starred Review

Clown in a Cornfield 2: Frendo Lives Review

Clown in a Cornfield moved at a relentless pace and had impressive character development, particularly considering the short timespan the novel covered. Sophomore novels can be challenging at the best of times, but with such a strong first book in this series, it was valid to wonder if the sequel would maintain the pace and quality, or if it would falter.

YA horror fans can take comfort in the fact that Cesare shows he’s on top of his game. Clown in a Cornfield 2: Frendo Lives isn’t simply a rehash of what happened in book 1. It breathes new life into the story by introducing new characters and widening the reader’s perspective. Jerri is unlike Quinn, Cole, and Rust. She’s a survivor, but she lacks the confidence to defend herself. Her struggles are relatable and realistic. While Quinn and Rust have trained to fight, in case they ever needed to defend themselves again, Jerri works at the theater and goes through life more as an observer than a participant, friendless and lonely and overlooked by her grieving mother.

In many respects, she’s the heart of the book. Quinn’s tough and trying to push her way forward, acknowledging that she’s a different person now and friends of old have become acquaintances, that she can’t be anonymous anywhere she goes. She suspects the worst of almost anyone, and that compounds her emotional journey in this story.

A common trope in several genres involves splitting up groups before reuniting them, and Cesare uses that effectively here. Their actions are plausible and set the stage for the events that occur. 

While the core characters have evolved somewhat from book 1, they’ve all grown in realistic ways. As a wealthy individual, Cole’s the most nonchalant, the most accustomed to glossing over uncomfortable situations with slick PR tactics. He isn’t always on high alert, which is believable for someone with the privilege he’s enjoyed, and that contributes to his experiences in this story. Rust is always suspicious, and he’s prepared. His finely tuned radar informs his decisions as events unfold. Quinn’s loyal and relentless, qualities she draws on as things turn ugly.

This book moves just as fast as book 1, and it moves the three primary protagonist’s forward in their lives as they fight for survival. It’s fair to say this book feels pretty political. Cesare must have the ability to see the future, because Frendo Lives capitalizes on conspiracy theorists and the distrust of the mainstream media to show what happens when people start listening to fringe voices with agendas instead of researching events and making informed decisions. Ten years ago, perhaps some would have argued this could never happen. Now, it seems all too plausible, given the events of recent years. 5 stars for a fantastic, entertaining, heartfelt read.

Consumers needing content warnings are urged to check out Clown in a Cornfield 2: Frendo Lives’ page on Does the Dog die by clicking this link: 

Clown in a Cornfield 2: Frendo Lives (Book, 2022) –

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