Monday, April 6, 2015

Audiobook Review: Asylum by Madeleine Roux

Title: Asylum
Author: Madeleine Roux
Publication Date: August 20, 2013
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 313
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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.

Asylum has been on my to-read list for an exceptionally long time - ever since I saw the cover, honestly. I knew it had to be spectacular with that cover and a description about a haunted insane asylum! There's no way it could be anything BUT awesome! Right? Um... well.

This book started out pretty good. It had all the creepy factor it needed and the setup seemed like it was going to lead to something amazing. Unfortunately, it didn't take very long for me to realize this was not the horror of my dreams. Perhaps it's because this is one of the first YA horror novels I've ever tried to read, but it just didn't work for me for a number of reasons that make me sad. Because I so wanted to love this.

The characters were really the beginning of the end for me. Dan seemed like an okay guy, but he was just too... young. I read a ton of YA. In fact, that's almost all I read. But Dan seemed entirely too young to be in a college prep program. His actions around Abby seemed ridiculous, to be honest. Really, Dan acted like I would have at his age, but I definitely wasn't out doing the things other kids my age were doing back then so... maybe he was sheltered? Abby and Jordan weren't all that likable either. Jordan was kind of a jerk and Abby was a little bit too whiny for my taste.

One thing that did work in Asylum was the mystery surrounding the institution. I think if this book had been marketed primarily as mystery it would have been a heck of a lot better. But the horror aspects fell flat for me. I did keep reading (er... listening) because I wanted to know what was going to happen, who the bad guy was, etc. I was never scared though, and that's something I'm looking for in a scary book, especially an audiobook, which should really be even more frightening if done well.

The potential was definitely there, but Asylum didn't come through, which really is unfortunate. I think the main problem is probably that I'm much older than the target age group, although that isn't usually an issue with other YA books. I would recommend this very hesitantly to fans of mystery, but perhaps fans of middle grade books rather than YA. I guess you can't win them all!

Notes on the Audiobook
Michael Goldstrom was a pretty excellent narrator! He did a good job distinguishing characters and he did really do the best he could with the material. I'd definitely listen to more books narrated by him!