Author: Madeleine Roux
Publication Date: August 20, 2013
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.
I had a lot of trouble deciding whether or not I liked this book. The hype around it made me both skeptical and excited about it, so perhaps I was overanalyzing because of that, or maybe book reviewing in general makes me overanalyze something as simple as whether or not I like a book now. Either way, I’m still not totally sure how I feel about it, but this review will probably have more things I didn’t like about it than things I did.
To start with, I wasn’t super hooked by the writing, which is a pretty crucial thing. This book has been compared to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children a lot, and one thing that is definitely similar is the writing style. To me it was too simple and forgettable. I also felt that in a weird way, it was sort of detached, and I never got to know the characters all that well.
I also found the characters kind of dull and not genuine, especially Dan, which is bad because he’s the protagonist. He’s the character whose head we’re supposed to be in, but at the end of the book I still didn’t feel like I truly knew him. I felt like the author was trying to make us question Dan’s sanity a little bit, but since we never got the full story of his mental health things, it didn’t do anything for me and I didn’t believe it.
In addition, I felt that the villain, the other Daniel Crawford, was rather cliche. He’s your typical (supposed to be) good-guy-gone-bad, and all in all he was fairly predictable. I guess he was kind of creepy, but he wasn’t complex enough for me to really make my stomach turn.
This book was really hyped up pre-publication, and honestly, I can’t see why. The writing isn’t bad, but it’s not particularly memorable either. The simple writing and detached voice didn’t do anything for me, and the characters weren’t fleshed out enough. Though it was marketed as horror, I wasn’t as creeped out by it as I’d hoped to be.