Flight 171 by Amy Christine Parker
An imaginative and terrifying tale of horror for YA and adult audiences.
Although Devon Marsh agrees to go on the senior class ski trip, she feels deep inside that she shouldn’t be here. Her twin sister, Emily, had been the one who helped plan the trip, and she was gone, killed by a hit-and-run driver months earlier on Halloween night. Emily had decided to walk home from the party the sisters had attended when the accident occurred. Devon had been stricken with guilt every since because she was the reason Emily was afoot in the first place. The twins had argued over Devon’s recent behavior, and Devon had taken the car and driven off without her. Now, she was aboard a plane headed to Denver with most of Emily’s closest friends, and the four-hour flight was soon “wheels up.”
Besides Devon and two dozen or so classmates, teachers, and chaperones, there was also a handful of other passengers on the red-eye flight unrelated to the ski party. Devon’s mother, a pilot for the airline, was also along; she was to pilot a different plane out of Denver the following morning and planned to catch some sleep in the crew cabin tucked away above the galley. But another passenger caught Devon’s eye: a little gray-haired old lady sitting in her seat, humming to herself and knitting furiously. But as Devon made her way to her seat farther back in the cabin, the old woman looked straight into Devon’s eyes, giving her an impossibly wide grin and intently holding her gaze as the line to the rear crept on. Even though the woman appeared elderly and harmless, she frightened Devon and put her on edge.
But as the plane takes off and the flight gets underway in earnest, the old lady passenger proves to be much more than a creepy senior citizen. And as the flight progressed, it became apparent that everyone on the plane had secrets to hide, including Emily’s unidentified hit-and-run driver, who is among the passengers.
Flight 171 is a terrifying tale of high school students suddenly trapped on a plane mid-flight as it makes its way from Philadelphia to Denver for a senior class ski trip. The story is told from the perspective of Devon Marsh; an anguished young woman gripped in grief over the recent death of her twin sister, Emily. Devon blames herself for her sister’s death, though it had been determined to be a tragic accident. Devon had been handling her guilt by slowly remaking herself into her sister, wearing her clothes and jewelry, and even abandoning her own friends for Emily’s. She also focused on tracking down the hit-and-run driver who never came forward or was identified. The stress she’s put on herself on top of her grief is taking its toll.
Her classmates are a variety of personalities, athletes, partiers, and high achievers, but each one is also harboring secrets of their own. The use of the onboard television screens to reveal the students’ hidden sins was terrifyingly effective. I held my breath as each person’s big secret was exposed. I was on the edge of my seat at each attempt to overcome the onboard evil, and it was almost a gut punch at each failure. It was frightening as fear turned the passengers into a blind mob.
The elements of horror pushed all the right buttons for me. The description of the old woman creeped me out from the start with her too-wide grin, the intense eye contact, and the constant humming. Just thinking about this character again gave me the willies. (And these attributes aren’t the worst of it!) I could feel the kids’ panic throughout the story as if I were among the passengers myself.
I recommend FLIGHT 171 to readers who enjoy the YA horror genre, especially those who like forced proximity, locked-room-type stories. Probably not the best bet to take along on your next flight, though.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author or publisher through NetGalley and TBR and Beyond Book Tours.