I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Asylum by Madeleine Roux
Published by HarperCollins on August 20th 2013
Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
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.
The word Asylum alone evokes a feeling of dread. A twinge of apprehension. Unfortunately the title was the only thing that elicited that expected response, because the book was honestly extremely dry and wearisome.
The idea behind the story was solid: 16 year-old Dan comes to stay for several weeks over the summer at a college prep program and he finds out their dorms are located in what once was an asylum for the criminally insane. I’m on board with that. The characters completely destroyed this story though. They were dull, uninteresting and lacking in any sort of dimension.
The inconsistency of maturity was awful. Dan would be contemplating Jung one minute and acting like a 12 year old boy the next. He is supposed to be this incredibly socially awkward guy that has the hardest time making friends, yet he finds two people and they’re the bestest of friends… instantly. They spend all their time together and they even decide to take some of the same classes together and they talk about their family problems with one another and… it just didn’t feel authentic. Their friendship itself may have worked, but the fact that we knew they had JUST met ruined it all. Within a week even the teachers have nicknamed them ‘The Hydra’.
Dan’s two friends, Abby and Jordan, also met each other for the first time on the bus that brought them to the school. The nail in the coffin happened for me when about a week into their stay, Abby forgets to tell Jordan that she won’t be able to study with him because she’s hanging out with Dan instead. She comes home to find him waiting for her outside her dorm door, drinking, proclaiming that she drove him to drink.
Their friendship lacked a necessary composition that would generate these types of responses. But honestly, I’m not sure when I would ever put up with that type of behavior from a friend; it was just unnecessary and dramatic. (Also unnecessary was the incredibly forced romance that could have completely been done without.) It seemed incredibly unrealistic how advanced their relationship seemed to be after such a short amount of time and considering this was a huge basis of the story, it practically ruined the story as a whole for me.
The comparison to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a bit far-fetched and the only link between the two I could determine was the inclusion of black and white pictures. With Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children though, the pictures felt like they fit with the story much more and appeared to be incredibly authentic. While my ARC copy didn’t contain all pictures, the ones I was able to view looked digitally created and many didn’t even match up to what was being described which completely defeated the whole purpose. I would consider this to be a far closer match-up to Dennis Lehane’s ‘Shutter Island’- the YA Version with extremely bad characters.
The story was interesting enough but I was really anticipating a much more intense reading experience. The ending doesn’t give you all the answers, because apparently this is being made into a series which is completely unnecessary; this could have been a perfect stand-alone story (if it had more solid of characters and maybe a bit more creepy thrown in for flavor). Suffice it to say this was an epic disappointment and I don’t consider myself to be interested enough in continuing.