- Hardcover: 464 pages
- Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (September 10, 2013)
- ISBN-10: 0375868771
- Source: Publisher
The citizens of the small town of Oleander, Kansas call it the killing day: five people with seemingly no connection commit murders, killing 12 individuals, then attempt to kill themselves. In four out of five cases, they succeeded. A year has passed but that terrifying date in history has awaken something in this small town. Exacerbating the town’s pain and recovery, a devastating tornado hits the small town, destroying all but a small portion of the town. The military is called in, setting up road blocks and barbed wire fences, shutting down any communication with the outside world. Citizens who attempt to breach the quarantine are killed on the spot. Once peaceful citizens are rising up and committing horrific crimes, taking the law into their own hands. It’s only a group of five teens – Daniel, West, Jule, Cass, and Ellie- that realize something is seriously wrong and band together to find answers.
Told from the point of view of these five teens, The Waking Dark tells each of their stories how it relates to the killing day and the aftermath. They each harbor their own secrets, but opening up and banding together is the only way to avoid certain death. What they uncover is darker and more devastating than anyone ever could have imagined.
The characters Wasserman builds in this young adult horror novel are unique, flawed and, most of the time, not very likeable. Personally, I found it a challenge to connect to any of them and I didn’t really care about their fate or survival. What kept me invested in this novel was the storyline; I was desperate to uncover the source of the town’s evil. I’m purposefully vague in the root of this evil for I feel that readers should uncover it on their own. The execution of the reveal is one of this novel’s selling points.
While I didn’t connect with the characters, I did find the storyline compelling. It wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I though it would be, but I’d prefer a horror novel to have a strong plot than forced “terror.” If you are looking for a unique piece of young adult horror fiction, The Waking Dark is the novel for you. Recommended.