Author: Madeleine Roux
Publication Date: August 2013
Genre: Young Adult Horror
Book Summary (from back cover)
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.
I picked this book up, mainly because of the cover. I will admit it. I judge books by the cover quite frequently. This one was creepy and looked like it might deliver some good horror. So I bought it. ASYLUM was not a bad book. It did intrigue me enough to make me want to get to the end and see what happened. My biggest problem is that all of the twists I guessed almost before they were introduced.
Its very easy to read, although its almost a little more like a middle grade than a young adult. Not a bad thing, just something I found interesting. The main character, Dan, is a likeable kid, overall. But he doesn’t do much growing before the end of the book, and his “disability” is hinted at through the first 2/3 but not revealed until almost the end. I feel like it was meant to throw off the reader, but might have been more successful if it were played up more.
There is a little romance with Abby, but it doesn’t really go anywhere and fizzles before it ever really starts. The relationships are done pretty well – they match the weird pattern of summer camp friends (I used to work in summer camp administration) but they leave some things unresolved, and they aren’t “finished.” The characters make up a little too well and too quickly, considering everything that happened.
The creep factor was there, but it wasn’t as big as I’d hoped. An asylum that’s still got some of the old sections left could be more scary than this was. The serial killer factor involved also distracted me, mainly because there are several cop shows that have done a similar killer, and that’s all I could see in my head. I guessed the identity of the murderer by the second chapter, and the other twists were easily figured out. Despite this, the book does keep you interested and you want to know what happens and how its all happened.
If I had to have a gripe, it would be the photos and the ending. They were trying to go for something like the photos included in “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” and it fell short. Some of the ones included here were creepy. Most were pretty obviously staged, and really only served to pull me out of the story. My imagination came up with far scarier things in the photos described in the text, than what was shown. The ending, I found a bit confusing. I think I understand what the author was trying to do. If you want a spoiler, highlight the lines between the asterisks. *How could the professor leave notes in the Warden’s handwriting, if Dan has been writing them himself all along? That would imply the warden is possessing anyone, not just someone specific. I found this a confusing contradiction, and the questions it brings up aren’t scary or creepy, they’re just confusing and make the loose ends more annoying than anything else.*
Overall, I think the book could have been stronger. Characters could have been fleshed out more, some characters that seemed unimportant and became more important could have been emphasized, and the horror could have been played up far more than it was. If you are looking for something interesting and mildly creepy, this is it. If you want real scares and goosebumps, this is not the book for you.
Where to Find the Book
Book was purchased by reviewer.