Asylum – Madeleine Roux
For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, the New Hampshire College Prep program is the chance of a lifetime. Except that when Dan arrives, he finds that the usual summer housing has been closed, forcing students to stay in the crumbling Brookline Dorm—formerly a psychiatric hospital. As Dan and his new friends Abby and Jordan start exploring Brookline’s twisty halls and hidden basement, they uncover disturbing secrets about what really went on here . . . secrets that link Dan and his friends to the asylum’s dark past. Because Brookline was no ordinary mental hospital, and there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.
Featuring found photographs from real asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Asylum is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.
I’ve been meaning to pick this up for ages because it looked creepy and I’m trying to expand the amount of horror books I’m consuming (I’m better at dealing with scary things in books than I am with movies). Unfortunately, this did not satisfy me.
At first, I thought it would be promising, especially when I (belatedly) realized that the book includes photographs from real asylums. To be honest, the photos were the scariest parts. I guess I’m more of a visual person that way, because creepy photos (like movies) leave more of a lasting impression on me than words (I saw a photo of Rasputin in an Anastasia book when I was like 10, and 15 years later, it still haunts me. Real Rasputin was definitely not as creepy-funny as Christopher Lloyd’s version).
But I digress. This book, while interesting, wasn’t scary. It didn’t leave me looking over my shoulder or twitching when I heard a sudden noise. I wasn’t biting my nails out of anxiety for the characters. I certainly didn’t almost miss a bus stop like I did when I was reading The Hollow Boy (which was actually scarier because hello, poltergeists!). In fact, the only reason I didn’t read this at night was because the aforementioned photos appeared randomly, and I didn’t need nightmares of a room with a blood-stained gurney.
I also have to be honest and say I wasn’t particularly enamoured of any of the characters. Dan was okay, though perhaps a bit stupid – at one point, Abby asks him why they’re following the murderer’s instructions and going into a dark place where no one can hear them scream and I was like “no, seriously, why are you doing that? That’s actually the stupidest thing you could do.”
I didn’t really buy the Dan/Abby relationship, and I really wanted Dan to take a pill (he gets all angsty when he sees Abby – who he’s known for all of an hour – talking to Jordan. Until he finds out that Jordan’s gay). I found it hard to believe they were 16-17 when they came across as younger.
Despite my qualms, I still finished it in a couple of days (I’ll give it that – it was a quick read). I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the ending, but I also wasn’t displeased, if that makes sense. I don’t think I’ll be reading the sequels though.
P.S. Don’t forget to enter this giveaway for an ebook of J.P. Grider’s Naked and Far From Home, courtesy of Xpresso Book Tours!