Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Daniel Crawford is attending the New Hampshire College Prep program during the summer. He hopes to make some friends, take some classes, and enjoy the summer. This proves to be impossible after he discovers his dorm used to be an insane asylum for the criminally insane about 50 years before that used tortuous and inhumane methods on the inmates. Daniel does make new friends in Abby and Jordan and they explore the rotting disarray of the asylum, parts of it left completely untouched for years. He starts receiving creepy messages in spidery old fashioned script and e-mails that disappear when he tries to open them. It all becomes real when someone is killed in the manner of a serial killer that lived there. Daniel feels his life spiraling out of control and his new friends pull away from him. Is he the killer despite having no memory doing it? Or is someone trying to drive him insane?
Asylum interested me because I am fascinated with sanatoriums, particularly those in the past where torture was passed off and accepted as treatment and so much psychology was not understood yet. The descriptions of the creepy sanitarium rooms were phenomenally creepy. The creepiness factor was pushed with the dreams and visions with Daniel as both a patient and as the twisted warden. Then he starts receiving letters in the warden's writing and I have no idea what's going on. I'm questioning if it's ghosts, someone trying to mess with him, or if he's simply insane. This is before the murder even happens. The mystery is well crafted and I had no idea where it was going to end up. Pictures are interspersed throughout the book and they succeed in enhancing the mood of the story. My only complaint about them is that it's clear they are stock photos and don't always mesh well with the story. I also liked the short chapters. The story flows well on its own and the short chapters and many pictures make it seem like the tempo is much faster.
I had a couple of small problems with the book. Although Daniel felt like a real teen, Abby and Jordan were both prone to crazy mood swings. One minutes they were the best of friends and the next minute (and for no reason) they despised their friends. Their friendship didn't go through a lot of development before doing this either, so it felt really od. I felt Jordan was unnecessary to the story and Abby's revelation later in the book. I wanted more of the mystery and the asylum and less of their petty teenage drama.
Asylum is a deliciously creepy read. Near the end of the book, I was on the edge of my seat, constantly guessing what the resolution would be. I would love to get my hands on a finished copy so I can see all the pictures in their creepy glory.
My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins