Khanh the Killjoy


Asylum - Madeleine Roux The characters in this book are supposed to be 16. This is supposed to be a suspenseful thriller, a horror, for young adults. It is not. It is middle grade in writing. It is elementary in plot development and characterization. It is lacking in everything that would make it anything remotely approaching a good read.The writing is not terrible, just forgettable. I usually use a fair number of quotes in my reviews; I have almost nothing at all scribbled down in my notebook for this one: roughly 15 words total, really. This book, the writing, and the characterization is absolutely lacking in anything memorable; for better or worse. Do yourself a favor and skip it. Don't even glance at it.Oh, I changed my mind. I do have a quote for you. It's not from the book, but it's my personal opinion of that idiotic ending. No spoilers, by the way.“...This type of ending is a special instance of deus ex machina, known as the folie adieu, which is French for "Are you fucking kidding me?”- Howard MittelmarkThe book fails as a suspense, because within a suspense novel, characterization should be key. There is no character development in this book. The characters do not develop in complexity, they act, they do not think. They do not grow. They do not mature. They are scared, I am not scared for them; I half wished they'd get killed so that there would at least be a spark of excitement in this dull shadow of a horror novel. Stephen King might have written something better in 3rd grade.The characters are strange, I would usually say clichéd, but it's not even that. It is as if the characters cannot decide for themselves which cliché they are supposed to fall into. It is a sad, sad thing when a book fails at writing characters that are so poorly written that they cannot even force themselves into a mold. There is Dan, our main character, a seemingly extra-bright 17-year old, with hints of past psychological trouble. The book is told from his point of view, and he is an utterly unconvincing character. I believe he is a poorly written male character. It is not so much that he acts feminine, or makes observations that are uncharacteristically male (and he does make certain observations about her clothes and hair that do not ring true to a teenaged boy, but there's also something lacking about the way he is written. There is something about every single one of the three main characters, really, that doesn't make them feel real at all.The characters are Dan, the socially awkward but bright teen. Abby, the beautiful, artsy (why are they always fucking artsy?) girl with whom Dan falls into insta-love. Jordan, the brilliant gay math student. The three of them bond almost immediately, but again, we are told this, not shown this. I cannot buy this friendship, the way it was written does not ring true. Their bond feels forced. I neither like nor believe in any of the three as characters, and I do not believe in their friendship for a moment.They lack dynamic. They lack emotion. Their individual personalities are nonexistent. They are words on paper. Even through the eyes of our main character, we get no sense of development, of complexity. If this was a character-driven book, it fails utterly.The romance was forced, and it had no room in the plot. It does not play any role of importance whatsoever, it felt merely inserted in the book for the sake of having romance in a book that needed none, and actually ended up making a bad book even worse with its extraneousness. Their romance, their dates, their strained courtship---had no room in the book short of trying to insert some awkwardness in the already poorly crafted credibility of the dynamic that makes up our not-so-dynamic trio of Jordan, Abby, and Dan.For students supposedly so devoted to the pursuit of advanced education, the three seem in a terrible hurry to throw their summer of education away. They break the rules, despite knowing it would get them into trouble. They make stupid decisions, they overreact for no reason at all. Their apparent reasons for acting outside of their character were forced and not well-written as to create a sensible flow within the book. Everything felt incredibly disjointed.The final nail in this book's coffin is the fact that this book fails in delivering a compelling plot. This book fails as a horror, as a thriller, as a suspenseful book. There is no fear to be found within its pages. The photographs are laughable, and does nothing to add to the atmosphere of the book. They actually make it laughable; the picture of the so-called "lobotomy" pictures a girl with a horizontal zigzagging line across her forehead. It looks like someone scrawled a long line of Ws across her forehead; did anyone even bother to research this? There are photographs of other patients, so poorly photographed that they are obviously posed. They do not instill anything within the reader except laughter.The other photographs are that of letters, notes, sceneries. Letters. Yes, I am shaking in my boots. Letters. Terrifying. I'm actually more frightened by the hideous carpets (paisley?!) on which the notes sometimes are photographed.I was an easily scared child. I would say with absolute confidence that my five year old self would not be frightened at anything within this books' pages.The plot revolves around telling, not showing. Suspense is never built. The plot is paper thin, the twists are completely dependent upon our suspension of disbelief. For a horror, there is absolutely no suspense, and no fear. It is reliant upon coincidences and deus ex machina. There is no subtlety in the attempts at giving us hints. It was so very obvious to me from the very beginning as to whom the villain would turn out to be.There is a hint that this will be part of a series. I was barely intrigued enough to keep reading until the end of this book, and I'm about as eager to read the next book as I am anticipating a visit to my dentist. Skip this book.