Remember back when Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children was THE cool book? Yeah, dude, I totally remember and LOVED that book. I liked the concept of mixed media books, or at least I think that is what the books are called – when photographs are mixed in with the story. Asylum by Madeleine Roux seemed to have my name all over it because hello – PICTURES – and also each chapter is demarcated by like separator pages and as someone who is all about reading down the physical TBR this summer, things like that excite me for some odd reason. Unfortunately, I am going to put this out there that Asylum is an okay read, but it is not nearly as good as Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. I mean, the concept was there, just I did not love the execution.
Dan is super excited for the summer. He has always felt alone among his peers because while they love things like sports and partying, Dan loves academics and school. This summer, he will be surrounded by people just like him at the New Hampshire College Program. Basically, he is going to nerd camp over the summer. Upon arrival, Dan discovers that instead of staying in the dorms, the students will be staying in an old insane asylum while the dorms are renovated. As a normal person who has seen my fair share of horror movies, this is the point where if I was Dan, I would get the hell out of dodge. Yet, he stays and ends up making two new friends — Abby, a beautiful artsy girl who likes him and Jordan, the token gay kid who is obsessed with mathematics. As the summer goes on, mysterious things start happening to people at the camp including murder among other things. ALSO, the kids sneak around the asylum, just like how the horror movies tell you NOT to do it, and stumble upon some secrets. And yes, the photos play a large role in this book.
I think a large part of my detachment from Asylum has to do with Dan Crawford, main character. It is not that he’s an extremely unlikable character. He isn’t. I mean sure, sometimes he is kind of a jerk – especially in his treatment of his roommate Felix and in his treatment of Abby, but that is a normal teenage thing. I think I just really failed to connect and care about him. To me, he was very white bread and kind of boring. Yes, he does have interesting character traits – like he is adopted, he enjoys history and psychology. He likes school. Yet, I just never felt the OH MY GOD THIS CHARACTER IS AWESOME or the OMG THIS CHARACTER REALLY SPEAKS TO ME spark there. That stated, I would say that for this sort of thriller/horror story, he does make a good main character, in that this book is quite campy and as a reader, I was really more focused on the asylum’s secrets than I was on Dan’s lack of game with the ladies.
Roux’s Asylum is a very fast read and one that honestly did keep me up late reading, despite my disconnect from it. It’s very much one of those throwbacks to old school horror. There were some loose ends left, whichI think was there to open the door for a sequel. Personally, I would have preferred this as a standalone, as I think that sometimes thrillers and horror can work better that way, but I can understand why the choice is made to allow this to be a series. The writing was hard for me to place a finger on, as it seems to be written for a younger audience, but then a swear would pop up. Like, it feels like it was written down, so I guess it was hard for me to grasp just who the intended audience is. I would say if you went into Asylum expecting a quick read with some freaky photographs, you should be satisfied. Just don’t expect the next Miss Peregrine despite the similarities.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher
Other reviews of Asylum by Madeleine Roux:
Scott Reads It – “Besides the cliches, the plot was pretty original and enjoyable up until the ending”
Sweet Tidbits – “The inconsistency of maturity was awful.”