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Review: Asylum by Madeleine Roux

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Madeleine Roux

Series: Asylum #1
Genre: YA MysteryThriller
Hardback: 313 Pages
Publication: August 20, 2013
by Harper Teen


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.

◆ A copy was provided by Harper Collins for review ◆

Asylum fits very nicely into the YA spectrum of thriller/mystery. It follows a young teen away at a collegiate summer camp that takes place in a, you guessed it, asylum. Throughout the book, protagonist Dan Crawford befriends two troubled youths and embarks on a summer of exploration attempting to unravel the hidden past of the now defunct sanitarium. Between classes and romances, the mystery comes to a head as Dan and his friends encounter their own connections to the impromptu dormitory.

To be fair, the YA genre is not my usual cup of tea, but this book does many things very well. The author sets up a pretty mundane story but allows the setting to interact with how the characters behave. That said, the book is not overly ambitious in that it doesn’t attempt to world build so much as to allow the narrative to carry the setting. The characters, for the most part, are believable in their youth-fueled intentions, and the author shows diversity in character traits even among the trio of friends. There isn’t a whole lot of characterization used for any of the characters outside of the friend group. I think this is actually to the benefit of the story as a whole because it allows the reader to only spend time on the characters that matter.

The story itself isn’t particularly ground breaking. Though the haunted asylum that drives people crazy isn’t exactly a new concept, however, the author utilizes psychology in an interesting manner. By allowing the main character to be flawed, in a manner I’ll leave out because of spoilers, Roux gives the reader a different vantage point on how a rational character might approach the challenges faced as compared to a non-rational character. The character of Dan Crawford is developed well, and the author lets it build at a steady pace in a manner consistent with the progression of the narrative. The only major flaw in the story is the Scooby-Doo-esq manner in which the major conflict is resolved, but that is not entirely unexpected in the genre.

Overall, the book is enjoyable and does a great job in presenting a narrative ripe for the YA audience. The author very clearly knows her readers and delivers a literary meal perfect for the young palette. The narrative isn’t overly complex yet does not consider the reader inept either. The twists and turns are not overdone and are built into the narrative without seeming too extravagant. The most interesting aspect, by far, is the progression of the protagonist and his characterization, which is handled phenomenally. All in all this is a good book, not ground breaking, but good. I give it 3.5 out of 5 Stephen Kings’ with consideration of audience.

Additional Information
  1. Asylum
  2. Sanctum

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3 comments on "Review: Asylum by Madeleine Roux"
  1. This one is on my list and I'm excited to read it.

  2. Great review. Sounds like a good mystery! <3

  3. LOVE thrillers and spooky settings and if they're paired with schools, it's even more awesome!!

    It's perfect you could relate to the characters and that the plot was good :)

    Lovely review :)


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