Category Archives: YA

Review: Sanctum by Madeleine Roux

  • Series: Asylum
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (August 26, 2014)
  • ISBN: 9780062220998
  • Source: Library

Dan, Abby, and Jordan are still traumatized after the summer they spent at New Hampshire College Prep, formerly Brookline asylum.  Despite their attempts to return to their “normal” lives, their experiences still haunt them.  Then, they each receive a letter from Felix, another “survivor” of Brookline, now a patient at a mental institution. Included in his letters are vintage photographs from a carnival.  In a chilling message written on the back of the photographs, Felix insists that the trio’s work at the former asylum is not finished. Desperate to bring an end to the terror haunting them, they return to the former asylum over a weekend for prospective students.

As they arrive on campus, they are shocked to see a carnival on its grounds for the first time in several years. Given sets of coordinates, Dan, Abby and Jordan tour abandoned homes that are linked to the events at Brookline asylum.  They are soon aware that the darkness of the asylum reaches far beyond its walls, into the neighboring town.  A cult, known as the Scarlets, is ever present, following the trio’s every move.  If they are going to stop the terror that plagues them, Dan, Abby and Jordan must find the connection to the warden, ending his reign, this time for good.

When I read Asylum this time last year, I loved the terrifying setting. The photographs added another level of terror and fear to the reading experience. When I heard of this sequel, I was thrilled, hoping for the same or something more terrifying. Not so much. Rather than adding to the tone of the novel, the carnival photographs were disruptive. I didn’t really get the connection of the carnival to the storyline. If anything, it felt forced.  Carnival oddities certainly had the potential to add a haunting feel to this read, but it failed.

Additionally, while I felt I had built a connection with Dan, Abby, and Jordan, the same three characters in this novel felt like they were a mere shell of the characters they were in the previous book. Despite the fact they were supposed to be in their older teen years, their behavior and response to situations felt more like they were in their younger teen years. I wanted to reach into the book and shake them, get them to wake up and face the situation around them. Their emotional response to what was happening was completely inappropriate, brushing violence off as if it were an everyday occurrence.

In my opinion, it would have been best if the author stopped at  Asylum. I don’t feel like I, as a reader, gained much of anything after reading this book. Only a minimal amount of information/explanation was gained. Personally, I feel that a short novella could have relayed this better than a full-length novel.

All this said, I still plan on reading Roux’s future works. I loved the experience I had in reading Asylum, as well as her other books Alison Hewitt Is Trapped and Sadie Walker Is Stranded. This author has tremendous potential; one failed experience isn’t going to shun me away from her future work.

Review: The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (October 14, 2014)
  • ISBN: 9780316220750
  • Source: Publisher

Alix is a high school senior who lives a privileged life.  She has the all the right clothes and attends an prominent private school.  Never once has she questioned the source of her family’s affluence, until an activist group known as 2.0 targets her school.  The school isn’t the target, however.  According to 2.0, Alix’s father, head of a public relations firm, is responsible for countless deaths. The firm, nicknamed the Doubt Factory by 2.0, makes money protecting prominent companies from lawsuits by inspiring a feeling of doubt about the claims against them.  The members of 2.0 not much older than Alix herself, all orphans after their parents died after health warnings about various drugs were covered up by the Doubt Factory. It is the hope of Moses, one of the members of 2.0, that Alix can aid the group in their attempts to bring down her father’s company.

Alix is forced to question everything and everyone around her. Initially, she stands behind her father’s prestige but her resolve is weakened as she begins to do some research. Everything about Alix’s life begins to crumble down around her. Only she can put an end to all the senseless deaths, even if it means bringing down her father with her.

The Doubt Factory is a thought-provoking thriller that forces readers to reevaluate our feelings about big business corporations and the power they wield.  While it’s terrifying to contemplate that a situation like this may reside in our nation, it’s not that far from the realm of possibility.

Bacigalupi has crafted a novel rich with dynamic, well-rounded characters.  Alix’s transformation from snotty, privileged teen to a determined, passionate young woman was quite pronounced. Readers, like Alix, will question everything they know as they embark upon this journey of discovery. Initial opinions about certain characters will shift dramatically, with a multitude of questions not answered until the end. A truly exhilarating read, The Doubt Factory is a novel that will be enjoyed by readers of all ages.  Highly, highly recommended.



Guest Review: The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (August 5, 2014)
  • ISBN: 9780385744027
  • Source: Publisher

Sixteen-year-old Leilani and her father travel from their small island town to the Big Island of Hawaii to Oahu to seek medical treatment for her epilepsy.  When the President of the United States goes missing for several hours, they think nothing of it, assuming the media is rushing to assumptions.  Once they arrive on the Big Island, however, a series of meteor strikes causes all electronics to fail, preventing them from communicating with their family back home. The meteor storms also bring on the appearance of a celestial being, dubbed the Green Orchid due to its flower-like appearance.

Unable to complete her medical tests, Leilani and her father are desperate to return home. Commercial flights are cancelled and a return by sea is far too dangerous.  The added stress causes an increase in Leilani’s seizures, during which she experiences otherworldly connections to the past. As a food shortage becomes eminent, citizens begin to loot, forcing the military to become involved. Leilani and her father, attempting to find their own means of returning home, become just two of the many citizens forced into military camps.  As their hopes of returning home dwindle, Leilani begins to wonder if somehow she is connected to the entity that looms over them.  A terrifying and devastating future is before them.  Will they be able to return home before it’s too late?

I was thrilled to accept this book for review because I felt it was a book that my teen son and I could read and discuss together.  He’s currently quite fond of dystopian fiction and it seemed to be the kind of book he’d adore.  Initially, it was. Unfortunately it took an unexpected turn…and not necessarily for the good. Here are his thoughts.  Warning: there are some spoilers below. Typically, we don’t include spoilers in our review but they were necessary in order for John to fully explain his feelings about the book.

I’ve always wanted to visit Hawaii. My parents went when I was two and since then I’ve been begging my parents to take me. So when my Mom gave this book to me, I was really excited. It blended together survival fiction (I’m a big fan!) and a beautiful setting. Sure to be a success, right? Unfortunately no. It’s actually very difficult for me to write this review because I’m still rather upset at the shift the book made. It started out like any other dystopian fiction. Something happens to cause the world as we know it to go haywire. Yep, I’m sold. Initially, they claimed it was due to this meteor storm. Ok, that’s plausible. Then, in a complete shift, this thing in the sky is an alien being and Leilani is connected to it somehow. Ok, where the heck did that come from?  This dramatic shift really irritated me. I felt tricked, somehow. I was really enjoying the book, I was going to recommend it to all my friends. And then this.  Making things worse is the “to be continued….” at the end. So this is going to be a series now?  I’m all about cliffhanger endings but this one left me mad.  My mom says I should not rush to judgement and wait until the next book comes out, but I don’t know if I have the patience to do so.

I’m trying to be a responsible and respectful reader and finding the benefits to this book. I do agree that it is an excellent survival story.  I like how Leilani and her father were brought together due to the challenges they were faced, rather than giving up and fighting all the time. But that shift in the storyline. I don’t know if I can get over it.

So, I’ll do what my Mom suggests and I’ll read the next book. I’ll be more guarded about my feelings and trust, however.

I guess I can recommend this novel to fans of survivalist fiction and if you read this review you know about the thing that changed my feelings about this book. Looking at other reviews, people seemed to love it. Perhaps I am alone in my feelings, perhaps I’m the only one who chose to state them. So, I’m not going to tell you not to read this book. I’ll just warn you in advance. That’s the best I can do!

There you have it.  Now that John and I have discussed the book, he somewhat understands the author’s motives and is a little more forgiving of what transpired. I understand his feelings; this is probably the first time he’s felt so strongly about a book in a not so positive way.  Take John’s experiences as you may; I’ll be interested to read others reviews of this title!

Review: Mary: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan

  • Age Range: 12 – 18 years, 7-12th grade
  • Series: Bloody Mary
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (September 2, 2014)
  • ISBN: 9781423185192

Everyone is familiar with the Bloody Mary urban legend. Teenage friends Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna have researched the rules.

Positioning mattered. Salt mattered, too, because it purified against evil. Water mattered. Hand-holding mattered. Even the number of girls mattered.

The first time they summon Mary, what follows is terrifying.

The mirror filled with fog, like condensation after a hot, steamy shower. But the fog was on the other side. The wrong side. Droplets of water streamed down the glass, cutting black rivulets through the gray. . .

Yet once is not enough for Jess and she demands that her friends join her in summoning Mary again. This time, however, the consequences are dangerous: their summoning circle is broken and Mary comes through the glass in the mirror. Shauna barely escapes Mary’s murderous grasp, scratches from Mary’s nails down her back serving as evidence. They think they are safe from Mary but quickly learn that once Mary has tasted blood, there is no escape.

Mary can appear in any shiny surface, including windows, picture frames, and glasses. Her wrath is inescapable and the girls find themselves in a battle for their lives. Their friendships are torn apart as it becomes apparent that Jess’s motivation to evoke Mary’s spirit are personal.  With the guidance of survivor of Mary’s wrath, the girls must  learn what sparked Mary’s murderous rampage if they have any  hopes of ending it.

What a chilling read! I’ve been a fan of horror since I was a teen and I thought I was able to handle most anything. Apparently not!  This book had me terrified from the beginning. Monahan has created a cast of characters so real, their behavior and friendships so genuine it was easy to become invested in this group of teen girls.

The author uses letters from the “original” Mary to her sister to share the story of how Mary came to be this terrifying urban legend.  The actions that led up to her evolution into an urban legend are quite chilling. The monster Monahan creates in Mary is so chilling, leaving me terrified to be in the presence of mirrors after dark or to read this novel if I was home alone.

While many of the questions behind Mary’s creation were answered, there were many unanswered questions by the end of the book. That said, it is my understanding that this is but the first book in a series. Cue happy dance!

Fans of R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike will be thrilled to know that this title evokes the same terror as these horror greats. I had flashbacks to my teen years, reading Fear Street in the dark, with only a flashlight to guide me. A must read for horror fans of all ages, this is a book that will definitely be making the rounds this Halloween season. Highly, highly recommended.

Frightful Friday: Conversion by Katherine Howe

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.

This week’s featured title is Conversion by Katerine Howe:

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (July 1, 2014)
  • ISBN: 9780399167775
  • Source: Library copy

The seniors at St. Joan’s Academy, a private school in Danvers, Massachusetts, are wrapped up in the stress of their final year of school prior to graduation. The students are expected to take this pressure all in stride. Then one day the school’s most popular girl, Clara Rutherford, breaks out into uncontrollable ticks in the middle of class. Soon, other girls begin exhibiting strange symptoms, including hair loss, seizures, and violent coughing fits. With reason, students, their parents, and faculty are all on edge. What is causing these unusual, abrupt symptoms? Could it be something in the environment at the school poisoning them? Or perhaps, is it somehow tied to the town’s dark history?

Colleen Rowley is one of the students immersed in this chaos. The stress of graduation has overcome her as well. Working on an extra credit assignment on The Crucible, she uncovers what many others have not: Danvers is not the original name of this small Massachusetts town. Originally known as Salem Village, Danvers has a history of unexplained epidemics involving young women. Is it possible this modern epidemic is somehow related to that of the past?

Using parallel narratives, Howe gets inside the minds of two young girls, separated by three centuries of history. Ann Putnam was a young woman fully involved in the Salem witch trials. It was she who accused her neighbors of witchcraft. Today, Colleen Rowley holds powerful information about the town’s past and how it could be related to what is transpiring now.

With a substitute teacher serving as her mentor, Colleen’s research into The Crucible and the dark history of Danvers provides valuable evidence about the power of those in charge:

There are parts of the story that are overlooked . Maybe because they don’t fit with what the people in charge have to say…look beyond the dominate narrative…you can rewrite the narrative if you ask the right questions.

This knowledge forces Colleen to take a different approach to uncovering what is happening to her classmates. As she continues her research, the truth about the past becomes more apparent, simultaneous with revelations as to what is happening in her town today.

Howe forces readers to examine the power of manipulation, how the actions or word of one individual can shape the actions of an entire town. Conversion touches on the pressures society forces upon young girls, both today and centuries in past.  We demand that they not only get good grades and move on to prestigious colleges, but to maintain an appearance of control in the midst of one of the most challenging phases in their lives.  The pressure to be perfect is tremendous and therefore it shouldn’t be out of the realm of belief for consequences and side effects of this stress to be manifested physically.

Conversion has been compared to Megan Abbott’s The Fever. I admit, their similarities put me off at first. I Having read Abbott’s book first, I didn’t think I could continue reading this one.  How is it possible for two books, published just weeks apart, have such a similar storyline?  Simple! Both books are loosely based on true events. In 2012, eighteen girls in Le Roy, NY began exhibiting strange symptoms, including verbal and physical tics.  Ultimately, their symptoms were diagnosed as conversion syndrome, a disorder in which emotional stress is so strong that it begins to manifest into physical symptoms. Both Megan Abbott and Katherine Howe are from New York, so it is guaranteed that both women read about this unusual case. I don’t know about you, but if I was a writer an read about this case, I’d want to write about it two.

All this said, while Abbott and Howe both loosely base their novels on one actual event, there are enough differences to set them apart as unique novels. Each deserve their own attention and praise for they are truly outstanding and unique novels.

Going in, I didn’t realize Conversion was a young adult novel.  Both teens and adults are certain to enjoy this novel, each taking away something wholly different. For teens, it is the acknowledgement that we know they are under a tremendous amount of stress, and the importance of verbalizing their difficulties before they take a physical toll. For adults, it serves as a reminder that we are often responsible for exacerbating an already stressful time in our teens lives, often forgetting our own experiences in lieu of pushing our children to achieve perfection.

Bottom line, Conversion is a novel that I wholly enjoyed. I couldn’t put it down. I don’t know if it was due to the setting, or the fact that my own teen son is starting high school this year. Whatever the reason, I highly, highly recommend this novel.

Have you read both Conversion and The Fever? What did you think?

Review: Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington (Audiobook)

  • Listening Length: 7 hours and 17 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc. (March 11, 2014)
  • Source: Publisher, via Audiobook Jukebox

Liv Bloom, a foster child, is thrilled when she obtains a scholarship to attend Wickham Hall, a school known for its arts program.  As a scholarship student, she doesn’t have a lot in common with the other students, all legacies of their rich family lines. So, when Malcolm Astor, another art student from one of the school’s original families, begins to pay her attention, she’s ecstatic. Unfortunately, other students are less than thrilled with this match-up. Gabe, a fellow scholarship student, warns Liv from becoming involved with a “Wicky.” Liv is the happiest she has ever been and ignores Gabe’s warnings. Gabe is a bit of an outsider, beholden with a secret ability that might cause his expulsion from Wickham Hall…and entry into a mental hospital.

Liv’s happiness is cut short when she’s brutally murdered. With Gabe as her only tie to the living, the unlikely trio begin a desperate search to identify Liv’s killer. They soon realize Liv is only the most recent victim to a series of deaths that go back over a century. With the school and the authorities believing her death to be a suicide, Liv, Gabe and Malcom must uncover a dark and deadly history that hangs over Wickham Hall.

Liv, Forever has all the traits of a supernatural fiction that I adore: an elite, private high school; dark, foreboding setting; untimely death; and centuries of unexplained killings. I was a little wary that the love story between Liv and Malcom would overpower the storyline, but I was pleased to discover this was not the case. Rather, Talkington develops an incredibly engaging and addictive plot line that forced me to come up with every opportunity to listen more.

Additionally, through Liv and Malcom’s characters, Talkington weaves the art world into the storyline. Each piece of art mentioned has specific and detailed ties to the storyline. I found myself searching the author’s website for images of the art,  adding a completely new dimension to the story.

The characters Talkington has crafted are unique, well-developed, and rich with dimension. As you read (or listen), it’s hard to be wary of everyone, unsure of who can be trusted. A whole host of people could be responsible for Liv’s death, including those closest to her.  When all is revealed, readers will be handsomely rewarded with a truly heartfelt ending.

A note on the narration:

This is my first experience with narrator Jorjeana Marie.  Looking at the list of other books she’s narrated, they all seem to be in the thriller or mystery genres. Now that I’ve listened to her work, I can understand why. She has a haunting and mysterious tone to her voice that really adds a new dimension to the listening experience. I’m hooked; I definitely plan on seeking out more of her narration projects!


Bottom line: if you are looking for an uber creepy supernatural fiction, this is the title for you. Whether you read or listen to it, Liv, Forever is a title destined to be appreciated by readers of all ages. Highly recommended.


Short Review: The Way We Fall & The Lives We Lost by Megan Crewe

Following are short reviews/commentary on two of the books I read during the readathon!

The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

  • Age Range: 12 – 18 years
  • Series: Fallen World (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (February 5, 2013)

After a virus hits the small island that is home to sixteen-year-old Kaelyn, the government establishes a quarantine, isolating them from the rest of the country.  The survivors, with very little information, react in two ways: they survive as only they can, by building up a stronghold in their homes or, the more unfortunate, to form rogue gangs that will stop at nothing to get their hands on items necessary for survival. Told using a series of journal entries to Kaelyn’s best friend (away at school and not trapped on the island), this first in a trilogy details Kaelyn’s growth from a floundering and socially awkward teen to a strong and determined young woman.

The Lives We Lost by Megan Crewe

  • Age Range: 12 – 18 years
  • Series: The Fallen World trilogy (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (February 12, 2013)

In this second book in the trilogy, Kaelyn has discovered samples of a vaccine in her father’s abandoned lab.  She knows she must track down someone to replicate and disperse the cure. Unfortunately, that person isn’t on the island.  Forced onto the mainland after her home is destroyed, Kaelyn is disturbed to see that the virus has spread far beyond her island home and there are groups of survivors who will stop at nothing to get their hands on it. An excellent second book in a trilogy, this one has evaded any fears of a sophomore slump. Kaelyn has continued to grow as a budding leader, putting everything at risk to save humanity.

This is a trilogy I just happened to come across in a chain bookstore while on vacation. My oldest son pointed them out to me and, unfortunately, I quickly forgot their titles. Apparently, I was meant to read them for days later a tweet from the publisher reminded me! I intended for my fourteen year old son to read them first but, come readathon time, I couldn’t resist!

I do highly recommend this trilogy to fans of young adult apocalyptic fiction. The characters are genuine and well developed, the pacing spot-on with enough intensity to keep readers captivated. I’m glad I requested all three books from my library at once; I can’t wait to start in on the third title!

Audiobook Review: Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Unabridged edition (April 10, 2007)
  • ISBN-10: 0061341045
  • Source: Personal copy

Twelve-year-old Stephanie is confused when, after her eccentric uncle passes away, she is on the list to attend the reading of the will. There, a stranger appears, a man bundled up in a scarf, coat, and hat.  He’s introduced as Skulduggery Pleasant, a close friend of her uncle. When it comes time for the reading of the will, Stephanie is shocked to learn she’s inherited her uncle’s home.

Stephanie is attacked her first night staying alone in her uncle’s home. It is Skulduggery Pleasant who comes to her rescue, but Stephanie sees him for what he truly is: a walking, talking skeleton detective. She quickly becomes immersed in a world of magic in which an evil creature by the name of Nefarian Serpine is attempting to get his hands on the Scepter of the Ancients, a weapon that will wield him limitlessness power.  Together, with Skulduggery, the unlikely duo must confront this ancient evil and prevent him from taking control over the world!

A few weeks ago, I put out a request on Twitter for audiobook recommendations. This series was one of the first recommendations I received.  I don’t listen to a lot of middle grade/young adult audio books so I was really looking forward to this adventure. And boy, was it an adventure! Skulduggery Pleasant encompasses so much that I feel is missing in middle grade books! A young, female protagonist who, despite her age, is quite strong and fearless. The addition of Skulduggery himself adds a sense of humor and wit that lightens a potentially dark plot line. A sci-fi/fantasy meets detective story! But what really stands out for me is the audio book production.  Not only is there an outstanding narrating performance by Rupert Degas, but each chapter leads with catchy (ok, and a little bit cheesy) music. It’s almost as if you are listening to a television series or a radio show.

Finally, while the cover looks a bit creepy, the tone of the book is actually not. I have both an eight and a fourteen year old and I think this would be appropriate for both!  I guarantee any fan of mystery or magic of any age will fall in love with this unlikely duo of evil fighting heroes!  I cannot wait to listen to the next book in this eight book series! Highly, highly recommended.

Review: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

  • Age Range: 12 and up/Grade 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; First Edition edition (September 24, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0385743564
  • Source: Publisher

A decade ago Calamity came, a meteor that gave people extraordinary powers. Soon these individuals began to be referred to as Epics. Rather than using their power for good, they demanded more power and domination. No one dared to stand up to the Epics other than a rogue group of individuals known as the Reckoners. These individuals lacked any special powers but devoted all their time to studying the Epics so they can be eliminated.

David is an eighteen-year-old young man who is desperate to join the Reckoners. His young life has been spent studying the Epics, specifically Steelheart, the Epic that killed his father.  He has more knowledge of the Epics than any other individual, a knowledge that borders on obsession.  His desire to bring them down is personal; he’s willing to risk everything to bring down the Epic. With the Reckoners, David can finally execute the plan he’s been developing for the past ten years.

First reaction after reading this book? Wow! I read the synopsis and was immediately intrigued.  Sanderson has developed a post-apocalyptic world in Chicago (referred to as Newcago) that is dripping with intensity, never a dull moment.  What makes this novel stand out to me are the Epic’s super powers. They aren’t your typical, run-of-the mill powers.  With these powers come weaknesses that be used to the Reckoner’s advantage. Like Superman and his kryptonite, there is some flaw in their power that can bring them down.  David, through his diligent study of  the Epics, is the unlikely hero that will stop their ten-year reign.

The world Sanderson builds is unique and all together terrifying. He isn’t one of those authors that creates something without any explanation as to its cause; there is a reason and explanation for everything. Additionally, he pays homage to the super heroes/villains in comic books, a novelization of my favorite things about comic books!

While it is labeled as a young adult, don’t let that sway you from reading this novel. It had my attention from the beginning. Honestly, they only thing “young adult” about this book is that the main character is in his teens. There is a bit of violence so perhaps the age range of 12 and up is a bit low; My son is fourteen and I plan on allowing him to read this but do your due diligence and read a sample yourself before passing it on to your child to read.

Overall, I found this to be a incredibly well crafted novel guaranteed to thrill readers of all ages. I’m thrilled that this is the beginning of a three book series. I cannot wait for more! Highly recommended.

#Mx3 Review: The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

  • 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.