Friday, July 31, 2015

Survive the Night

Casey just got out of rehab, but she totally insists it wasn't a big deal. She doesn't have a problem. Really. To show her parents she's really changed her wild ways, she goes to a sleepover with some of her old squeaky clean friends. Unfortunately, her best friend and enabler Shana whisks her away for a night of adventure and debauchery. First, they, plus a couple of their other friends, go to a club where her ex Sam is playing with his band. All of them decide to go to this Survive the Night rave party in the sewers that has a secret, exclusive location. Then things start to go bad. Despite Casey's efforts to stay off drugs, Shana drugs her anyway and Casey stumbles about for a bit, hallucinating. She sees one of her friends disemboweled, but no one believes her because of the drugs. It turns out that there is something in the tunnels lurking, hungry, and everywhere.

Survive the Night is a straight forward teen horror novel. Our protagonist Casey doesn't want to admit she's addicted to drugs and wants to keep hanging out with the people who got her into the drugs in the first place. Never a good idea. I sympathized with her even though I thought she was a total moron at times. Her addiction stems from a sports injury that left her convalescing for an extended period of time. Shana and her risky antics make Casey feel alive again, so she doesn't recognize when things go from fun to scary as they both bargain with shady people, get into harder drugs, and do riskier things for an emotional or chemical high. Casey succumbs to peer pressure when she first tries to go the straight and narrow when she comes out of rehab, but Shana and her "friends" mock her until she goes with whatever they're doing. As the plot goes on, Casey goes through some changes. She first blames Shana for all her problems, but then accepts that she's the one who takes the drugs and goes with the risky behaviors. I liked Casey, but she's about the only tolerable character in the book.

The rest of the characters are either completely insufferable or glorified cardboard cutouts. Shana is the most horrible best friend ever. Not only does she get Casey into drugs and craziness, but she intentionally puts their lives in danger in a variety of ways: she likes to go to parties and ditch Casey with random creepy strangers; she drives dangerously for "fun"; she volunteers Casey for prostitution in order to get drugs; and finally, she makes Casey take drugs against her will by drugging her soda even though she clearly stated that she didn't want any drugs. All of this is just gross. Who would want a friend like that? I found her completely unlikeable and incredibly stupid and selfish. She had no redeeming qualities at all. The rest of the characters are unremarkable and interchangeable. I couldn't even keep them straight except for an object they carried or something like that.

Survive the Night reminds me a lot of the older horror teen novels like R.L. Stine's Fear Street series and books by Christopher Pike and Caroline B. Cooney. These authors got me into horror, but I don't really read them anymore because the characters and plots are not complex or interesting to me as an adult. This book is significantly more gory than these authors, but it just doesn't have the suspense or interesting cast of characters I enjoy reading. The villain of the piece doesn't come with any sort of explanation or backstory, which I would have liked. The throwback aspect is cool, but I've moved on. I hope it gets others into horror like books like this did for me.

My rating: 2.5/5 fishmuffins

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