My taste in books is very predictable. I mostly read young adult novels dealing with the paranormal and unexplained mixed with a little romance. That being said, when I saw Asylum by Madeleine Roux, I was excited. I saw that the book included disturbing photos like Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and that the book took place in an asylum renovated to be a college dorm. However, after giving the book a chance, I felt myself unimpressed with the character development as well as the pace of the novel.
Dan Crawford decides to spend the summer before senior year at New Hampshire College Prep. Upon arriving at the school, Dan realizes that his dorm is an old insane asylum. Trying to shake off the general creep factor of the dorm, Dan manages to make two friends even though he was mostly an outcast back home. As time progresses, the three teenagers start to realize, through the use of photographs and clues, that there is much more to this asylum than what meets the eye.
What I liked about the novel was the basic plot. Anything dealing with a questionable old building usually can at least keep my attention. I was expecting an American Horror Story vibe with less gore and cursing. Sure, just being in a building that used to be an asylum is freaky enough, but still, I wanted a little more. The story just didn’t hold my attention after a while. I wanted to know more about the characters so I could connect with them.
The writing was not necessarily bad. It’s just the way the novel was written didn’t exactly stand out. The photos, while interesting to look at, didn’t really seem to do much for the book. I also thought that the teenage romance was forced and not very well explained. This is probably because of a lack of character development. What little development there happened to be in this book really just made the characters seem awkward and childish.
Basically, I didn’t exactly enjoy or not enjoy this book. I liked trying to figure out what had happened with the characters as well as what had happened in the past within the asylum. The plot was interesting and the photos were fun to look at. However, I didn’t like the bland writing style, the kind of romance, or the complete lack of character development. I would have to say Asylum was the epitome of mediocrity.
Sarah Emily Lelonek has a BA in English Literature from Kent State University. She is planning on attending Graduate School for English Rhetoric and Composition. She enjoys traveling and gaming while on breaks from working on her novel.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by HarperCollins. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.