I Avoid Horror Stories…Except When I Don’t || Asylum Review

Initial Review: 

I feel like I’ve gotten more paranoid now after reading this book than before I went into it. A lot of this probably has to do with there being way too many characters that were too coincidentally linked with the asylum. And, like, seriously, who converts a dilapidated asylum into a dorm room. Just…I cannot. That said, at least the scare factor wasn’t as bad as I imagined. I’m not big on horror reads, but I’m also not big on horror, and yet I found myself getting desensitized after playing Until Dawn multiple times…So you crazy asylums can go suck it.

Still, you wouldn’t find me anywhere near one of those things.


ASYLUM

by Madeleine Roux
HarperTeen, August 2013
Horror, young adult
Rated: 3 / 5 cookies

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.

The Short and Long of It

Normally I avoid horror stories. Sometimes it’s because I want to avoid the gorefest in some, but honestly it’s mostly because when I read horror, I tend to let my imagination get the better of me, and then I start worrying about the wee demon I am sure I have under my bed. And then that leads to thoughts about said demon being hungry and me running out of sacrifices to satiate it.

Whatever the case, horror isn’t my go-to for reading.

But I have tried to branch out. And while it’s not my typical faire, it randomly shows up on my reading list out of whim or initial curiosity. In this case, it was definitely the photographs and the book cover that brought me to reading Asylum.

The funny thing is Asylum puts two of the main reasons why I try to avoid these books: ghosts and asylums. All it really needed was a clown and I’d be scared out of my mind.

Unless the clown is this little fucker. In which case, I’d just think he’s an absolute troll.

The book has been compared to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children so much that it is hard not to compare Asylum to the former, and honestly, I picked up the book because of Miss Peregrine, so…yeah. The pictures were just as intriguing, and I liked the idea of people telling a story with pictures included. Only, sometimes the pictures did throw me off, because Roux would be describing one thing, and then I look at the picture and oh, hey, I’m going: “But…the warden isn’t sitting down at the center, he’s standing! And the girl at the far right isn’t the one with the discombobulated head…I’m confused…” For the most part, though, the pictures added to the imagination, and it was a nice touch.

I liked the premise of the book. Dan Crawford goes to a summer program and his current home situation throws him into a dormitory that used to be a hospital for the insane. Not just any asylum, mind you, but one filled with terminally insane, homicidal folk with an equally terminally insane, homicidal warden at its head. Pulled by a need to investigate the mysterious pictures at the old warden’s restricted office, Dan becomes embroiled in some weird historical investigation where he finds out that the past can quite literally haunt you. Especially if your name’s Daniel Crawford.

Dan’s friends are also hoots and a half. Jordan was probably my favorite, but that’s mostly because if I was a character in the group, I’d be the scared math-geek with hermit-like coping mechanisms. But that’s assuming I’d make it that far into a program that has an insane asylum as its dormitory. I probably wouldn’t have even applied for the program to begin with. You wouldn’t see me anywhere near old hospitals–oh, wait, I sort of kind of work in one now. Oops?

What did annoy me was the weird progression that the story took. What became an interesting mystery and delving into people’s minds boiled down to a case of some not-so-mild possession. Not much was really explained by the end, and I’m still not sure how some people got possessed while others didn’t. And the random letters Dan kept getting in the story was never really fully explained. I mean, yeah, Dan made conjectures, but there wasn’t much basis in them, and I’m not sure that’s supposed to be left open because this is, after all, only the first of a trilogy.

There was also the fact that this is apparently meant to be a young adult book, though I didn’t really see much of that in the book. Yes, there’s a romance, and yes, the characters are your typical YA characters, but uh, there wasn’t much drama in that department. High school kids go to a college-like setting with college-like classes, and honestly, nobody romped behind closed doors in a dormitory? Ugh, what a bore.

All in all, though, it was a good story and a quick read. I wasn’t wowed by it, and I actually did prefer Miss Peregrine over this one, mostly because of the more fantastical, supernatural element, but I still liked the story and I’d probably pick up the next at some point.

3 out of 5 cookies!


Have you read this book? What did you think?

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Mini Reviews: All the Light We Cannot See, Waking Gods

In truth, I could probably have written much more about both these books that could garner full reviews, but I’m pressed for time and you really don’t want me ranting about Waking Gods anyway, right? Okay, maybe you might (I rant rather rantily), but the timing issue pretty much screws things up.

Anyway, both of these were audiobooks I’d listened to in the span of a few days. They were pretty addicting, and All the Light We Cannot See was surprisingly fantastic, even though again, I would say that I probably should have taken a reviewer’s advise and stopped at around page 477. The ending…well, ended in a hopeful note much like The Book Thief did, but I found it anticlimactic and honestly, by that point, I thought the story just went on for too long.

As for Waking Gods, well. Maybe I should have read the book and not listened to the audio. The audiobook pissed me off because there were so many ingratiatingly annoying voices added into the mix, most of it being mother-effing Eva. This is supposed to be a scared 10- or 11-year-old girl but sounded like a whiny 40-year-old instead. I don’t know if I could listen to the third book knowing that Eva will be back, because holy crap, I cringed and wanted to chuck my phone out the window every single time she came into the scene (and unfortunately she becomes main in the last half hour of the damn audiobook). I’m hoping there’s a change in the voice actress in any case, though I highly doubt it, considering they’ve remained pretty consistent on both books so far.

Have you read either of these books? What did you think?

Mini Reviews: The Killing Joke, Trigger Warning

More minis! I’m clearly making up for my lack of reading two months back, so there’s a few more of these in the foreseeable future, that’s for sure.

Also, my library finally resettled their audiobook collection, and I can now return to listening to those while I multitask, which is a big plus, because now I can polish off even more books than usual.

The first is a comic book I’ve been meaning to read for the longest time, and after having seen the animated movie that was based on The Killing Joke (which was pretty damn great though the first 30 minutes were not altogether accurate or welcome), I just had to pick it up.

The second is an audiobook short story collection narrated by the author. I’ve been a fan of Gaiman’s longer works, and some of his short stories are pretty awesome. Despite being called Trigger Warning, though, there was probably only one instance where a story got super-creepy. (That’s saying something about my morbidity tolerance, lmao).

I rated Trigger Warning pretty high, though in retrospect, the high rating was due in large part to the longer, standout stories. If you consider the fact that I only really enjoyed four out of 24 stories, the percentage is pretty steep. Just saying.

Have you read either of these? What did you think?

Mini Reviews: Injustice Year One, Skinwalker

Just a couple of minis for now! I’m in the middle of reading two heftier books at the moment, one a NetGalley ARC (or it was…um…), and the other the massive conclusion to Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I’ll definitely review both soon.

I realize that I had actually written a review for a portion of Year Two of Injustice but never actually read the first year volume up until now. So, here’s me remedying that! I’ll have to finish the second year as well.

I also realized that it’s been ages since I actually read the first Jane Yellowrock book, Skinwalker, and I never actually reviewed it! So here it is to add to my mini-reviews collection.

Have you read either of these? What did you think?