Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review: Asylum by Madeleine Roux

Title: Asylum
Madeleine Roux
Publisher: Harper Teen
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
Release Date: August 20, 2013

Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

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.

My Review

Madeleine Roux is an author who has been on my radar for a while (I own, but am yet to read, Allison Hewitt is Trapped), so I decided that I would give her YA debut, Asylum, a try. The story is about three friends - Dan, Abby, & Jordan - who meet at a summer college prep program. The dormitory where the teens are staying for that particular summer happens to be an old asylum for the criminally insane. The book was sinister and eerie at first, but ultimately fell flat.

The characters in the novel were not Asylum's brightest point. Dan, Abby, and Jordan met upon arriving at NHCP (New Hampshire College Prep), but were the best of friends within twenty-four hours. Dan was social outcast from his old school because he was smart, and no one liked learning as much as him. I, however, read Dan as an intellectual elitist who held himself apart from other people. There is one instance after he met a man in the town and described him as "just a nutty old bat who hated the college and everything associated with Brookline. He probably grew up in Camford resenting the kids who could afford a higher education." (ARC pg. 134) You, Dan, are a douchebag and have no idea what a stranger's educational history is, and this is exactly why you have no friends. Anywho, moving on. Abby is an artist, and of course she is a pretty, petite girl that everyone loves! She is also a fairly typical teenage girl - prone to drama and doing dumb shit. The only purpose that she really served was as a "love" interest for Dan, in addition to being the person who kept wanting to go down to the closed off area of the asylum. Jordan met Abby on the bus ride to NHCP, becoming longtime friends since they knew each other approximately two hours longer than everyone else. He is probably the only truly interesting character in the book. Jordan came to NHCP against his parents' knowledge instead of going to a "pray the gay away" camp. He was also smart enough to not want to go back into the bowels of the Brookline Asylum once weird shit started happening. I think Jordan would have been a better main character, but I guess he couldn't because of Dan's one purpose. (Spoilers.) As for their interaction with one another, it was a clingy sort of strange where they all borderline stalked each other after being friends only a few days. I did not get it.

Asylum has been compared to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, but the ONLY similarity that I could see between the two novels was that they used old photographs. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was full of fascinating characters and a plot that made my blood run cold at times as it unfurled. The characters were based on its creepy old photos, and it all worked. Asylum's photographs were interesting, but not really scary, and the story would have been just as bland without them. To be fair though, I did read an advance reading copy (ARC) of the book, and many pages clearly stated "Interior Art to Come". However, I don't think the upcoming photos will be enough to raise the quality of the finished copy.

I will say that Roux's writing was quite good and kept me in the book. Asylum almost scary in the beginning. I was nearly too freaked out to read it at night for the first hundred pages or so. Yes, I quit caring about the characters. I do think that the would be great for reluctant readers because it is an easy read (I essentially read it in one sitting) with plenty of chills. While Asylum did not do a lot for me, I do plan on having it on hand at the library for Halloween.

- 2.5/5 Stars -

Buy Links
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Fishpond

To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.

This book counts toward my completion of the Debut Author Challenge.


  1. Oh man, that's a huge disappointment. I really wanted this to be great, and almost pre-ordered it, because I love horror and thrillers. But every time I've read a book with those old photos in it, I was let down - including Miss Peregrine. :(

    I've found a lot of times in horror that characters are the least developed part of the story (even in movies.) The writers spend a lot of time with the scare factor, but the characters are always flat.

    It's a shame this one didn't work for you, but at least now I know not to spend money on it. Maybe I'll check it out from the library closer to Halloween.

  2. I saw the book and fell absolutely in love with the description of the book. I was always one for horror and suspense. You saying this is just your own oppinion. I love the book and I keep it by my side for anytime I need something to do. I can't get enough of it.

    1. I'm glad that you enjoyed the book more than I did. Apparently I'm in the minority as it's been on the NYT Best Sellers' List for a few weeks. :-)


You are going to put words in my box?! *squeezes you* Now I shall stalk YOUR blog!