A review by a_bookish_butterfly
They Threw Us Away, by Daniel Kraus

medium-paced

3.0

Well, you know I couldn’t pass on a horrific teddy bear survivalist story! 

Daniel Kraus, who often writes adult horror, switched gears effortlessly, capturing the necessary tone for a middle grade novel quite well. Despite its fluffiness, he managed to weave in some scary scenes that will thrill young fright seekers! I loved how supportive these teddy bears were toward each other as they faced frightening challenges in a quest for safety. They cared for each other and willingly made sacrifices to demonstrate that. The descriptive writing was well-constructed and vivid. 

That wasn’t enough to fully captivate me, though, which could arguably be because I’m an “old” person. While I’ve adored many middle grade novels, this one didn’t quite hold my attention well all the way through, although it had a strong beginning. I imagine the target age group would find it more exciting. 

My biggest issue with this story pertains to gender stereotypes. This could have easily been a male heroic story that still presented females in dignified ways, but it didn’t really feel that way. While some females had limited redeeming qualities, it stood out that they were dopey, superficial, unkind, deceitful, naive, needy, and/or disposable. Although there was some implication that a couple were brave, it seemed more clearly conveyed that the males were courageous, level-headed and wise. As far as positive attributes go, this felt imbalanced, and there was a subtle, problematic message within that. 

If you consider this for your own kids, know that there are scenes that could be really upsetting for young readers. If your child isn’t a fan of scary books, don’t let the teddy bear theme misguide you. This is exactly what it claims to be - a teddy horror - and not every bear will make it out in one piece. Some of the imagery is graphic, even though it’s not a blood and guts type of story, and that may be difficult for some children to process. 

The themes of supportive friendship and perseverance don’t necessarily outweigh the negatives, but they do provide something worth chewing on. I didn’t consider this to be an exceptional story and I won’t continue with the series, but I’m glad that I gave it a try!