I picked up Asylum because I am a sucker for horror films. I absolutely love creepy, psych ward, haunted, exorcism, Paranormal Activity type films. I saw this cover and immediately grabbed it and held on for dear life. I thought FINALLY!!! horror of my specific preference has come to YA and WITH PICTURES. It’s taken me a while to write this review, first because I am swamped with research papers but the true reason is that I was so disappointed. This is one of those books that has a fantastic concept, the kind that has you hanging on to your seat, sleeping with the lights on, insomnia inducing terror right at your fingertips, and it simply failed to deliver.
Plot: Dan Crawford is thrilled to be attending the New Hampshire College Prep summer program. He has high hopes to finally meet some people who are as enthusiastic about learning, and escaping the stereotypical labels of high school as he is. Dan loves research, he’s fascinated by history, and plans to take this prep program for all it’s worth. Dan is nervous about making friends, and is pleasantly surprised that as soon as he sets foot of the campus he falls in with a beautiful girl named Abby, and her new gay BFF Jordan. Things are looking up, and it seems like Dan will get his dream summer after all, and maybe even go on a date, when he learns that the New Hampshire College dorms are in an old sanitarium that housed the criminally insane. As Dan and his friends dig deeper, they uncover the horrific past of the asylum, gruesome, chilling tales of experimental procedures, serial killers, and operating theater performances on children. Breaking into a forbidden office, Dan and his friends discover the files of the former patients, and haunting photographs that suggest a darker past hidden within the walls of their dorms. Strange and disturbing things start to happen, obsession becomes sinister, and Dan scrambles to decode the puzzling psyche of the former warden who looks an awful lot like him. Murder, possession, ghosts, and events that threaten to drive even the most sane out of their minds, Asylum digs into a past that is so terrifying that people would rather demolish the building than uncover the truth.
Here is the Goodreads blurb:
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 photographs are ominous, and startling in the most chillingly graphic way. The black and white photos depict patients with dead, haunted eyes, doctors and nurses with creepy smiles, and jarring poses that will have you guessing at the secrets hidden behind those expressions. Specs of blood, handprints, bare bulbs in cellar-like padded rooms with manacles, and spotted gurney’s suggest a tortured, shadowed existence. Surgical instruments stained with blood, healed over, jagged wounds point to procedures too backwards, and painful to comprehend. These pictures are things of nightmares, loss, and macabre.
- The plot twist was unexpected, and jilting.
- Stories of the patients in the sanitarium were truly eerie, and a touch menacing. The diary entries, ghoulish notes, and crazed quotes made for a thrilling build up that will have you second-guessing everything.
- While the story attempted to use to the pictures as a supplement or even explanation of plot elements, the descriptions, actions, and events do not do the photos justice. What is left unsaid is far more terrifying.
- Slow, and hard to get into.
- Dan is boring. He’s completely devoid of any interesting, memorable characteristics except for his dwindling sanity.
- Nearly all of the characters were undeveloped, the dialogue was stilted, forced, and a little unrealistic. The sheer anger, borderline rage that suddenly took over was so weird that it was unbelievable, and felt unnecessary. The conflicts between the three main characters were random, and complete over reactions. It seems that the author was trying to make these conflicts so out of place that they would be associated with the supernatural, ghostly elements of the plot but it just didn’t quite get to that point.
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