Review: Asylum

Asylum by Madeleine Roux
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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.

I’m a bit conflicted on my feelings for this book. Was it creepy? Yes. Creepy as the cover promises? Not really. I went into the book thinking it would be this supernatural horror story, but since Dan is an reliable narrator, I think it came off more as a psychological horror story than supernatural. There were the creepy things happening that can’t be explained, but since this book felt pretty short and most of the time it was just setting up events, I wasn’t really satisfied with it.

The writing, for one, is very simplistic. It was dry, only the lure of suspense and horror keeping me from stopping the reading altogether. Also, the characters were really inconsistent. I was having my doubts on Felix, but I thought he was more a ghost than an actual person. Then Abby, whose mood swings gave me and the protagonist severe whiplash. One moment she wants to go down in the creepy basement, almost bullying her ‘best friends’ into it, the next she is talking about how she wants to get out of there. Also, the romance was just thrown in as a trope or a reason to cause unnecessary conflict, in my opinion. As for the ‘best friends’ this must be the most dysfunctional squad I’ve seen. First few days, they are all sunshine and picnic, and a week later they are snapping at each other like people with cabin fever. I still don’t get why Jordan was so piss-y at them. Then again, with Dan as the narrator, it begs the question of which events were actually real.

The ending was out of left field, and I don’t get how Dan was even cleared by the police. (view spoiler)

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