Monday, October 7, 2013

Crazy for Feeling So Lonely That I Decided to Read You


Published: August 20th, 2013
Asylum
By: Madeleine Roux
HarperTeen
ISBN-13:  9780062220967

For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux's teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.

Review

     Dan Crawford is doing something different this summer - getting away from another summer spent alone and friendless, by going to the New Hampshire College Prep program.  Once he's there Dan instantly bonds with fellow students Abby and Jordan.  All three of them have secrets they're hiding and when strange things start happening in their dorm, which used to be a mental hospital for the criminally insane, everything begins to fall apart.  Exploring in the forbidden areas of the asylum, the teens find things they never imagined hidden in the shadows.  With their pasts and futures both in question, all the teens must fight to stay sane while solving the mysteries of the asylum - especially Dan, whose connection to the place might be linked to the mystery of his birth parents.  Can Dan, Abby and Jordan stay alive long enough to uncover the truth?
     This book was a BIG. FAT. DISAPPOINTMENT.  Seriously, I have been more scared by R.L. Stine books as a child than I was reading this book!  I still get chills when I think of Fear Street and the gruesome, evil things that happen there.  This freaking mental hospital was just so unrealistically portrayed.  First of all if they've renovated it into a dormitory for a college summer course, I'm sure that in reality there wouldn't be a huge roped off section that nobody had been in since Crazytown shut down originally.  I can get past that, cause it's slightly necessary for the framework of the plot.  But the characters, plot and mystery in this book are so poorly executed that it's more pathetic that anything else.  The 'found' photographs are so obviously fake and there are so few of them to begin with that they're not really an integral part of the story.  Yet it's being marketed as the horror equivalent of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.  It is nowhere near good enough or well researched enough for that comparison.
     Roux has a serious case of the "telling instead of showing" blues.  We are told so much about the character's personalities and about the events that happen.  But we never really get to experience any of it for ourselves.  Of course, that could just be because Dan (our main character) is supposed to be a genius who's had a difficult life and is a cardboard cutout instead.  He is kind of a douchebag, who really just wants into Abby's pants and doesn't even like Jordan (who he thinks is over-emotional), but describes him as one of his best friends throughout the entire book.  Abby is the stereotypical artsy, 'creative' type and is also about as interesting as when that plastic bag is blowing in the wind in the movie American Beauty - in other words, not at all!  Jordan is the character who definitely belongs in a mental hospital, as a patient.  He spends the entire book having serious mood swings, jealous episodes and basically acting like a schizophrenic, bi-polar with the emotional maturity of a kindergartner.  Yet Dan and Abby seem to think he's this awesome person, who they absolutely have to save from himself.
     The mystery to me was what the author actually intended the mystery to be in this book's plot.  The whole thing was just really convoluted.  I was never sure whether the killer was reincarnated, possessing the living 'host' or if the 'host' had a split personality.  The two main mysteries I guess, were whether or not Dan was related to the similarly named sadistic hospital warden, Dan Crawford (I think he turned out to be a nephew or great-nephew?  Could be wrong...) and if Abby's long missing Aunt had really been in that hospital/if she was alive.  Neither of theses was resolved all that well, and I think Roux was setting up for a second book at the end.  With the lack of plot, character development (or, ya know, personality of any kind!) and overall scare, I definitely won't be continuing.  The only reason I finished it was to see how she was going to wrap things up.  NOT a recommended read, and definitely an author I won't be reading again.  Overall, a big fat disappointment.

VERDICT:  1.5/5  Stars (This is me being VEEERRRYYY generous!)

*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book was published August 20th, 2013.*

3 comments:

  1. Awesome, this was a absolutely superior post. In approach I'd like to address like this too - demography time and absolute accomplishment to accomplish a acceptable article... but what can I say... I adjourn alot and never assume to get something done.
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    1. Thank you for the compliment! :) I try to be honest, but constructively critical in my reviews. I don't like to come across as some judgy, shrew!

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  2. I liked this one a little better than you did, but I agree that it was a disappointment. (Here is my review.) I wish the characters had been more developed. I think that would have gone a long way towards improving the book. I didn't mention this in my review because I wasn't sure if I had missed something due to reading part of it in a loud place and being a little distracted, but I found the resolution to the mystery confusing too. I'm glad it wasn't just me!

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