Tuesday, January 28, 2014

MINI-REVIEW: ASYLUM (Asylum, #1) by Madeleine Roux

Title: Asylum
Series: Asylum, #1
Author: Madeleine Roux
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: August 20, 2013
Genres: YA, Psychological Thriller
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
My rating: 3/5


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.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux's teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.


I seem to be reading a lot of books lately that leaves me with mixed feelings. Sadly, Asylum ended up being one of those books that starts off intensely suspenseful, bringing on the chills in quick succession, but soon losing momentum.

The only elements driving this story, and which also kept me riveted, are the endless questions and guess work that goes into the who, what, where, and when. Is Dan crazy? Is it a long-forgotten escaped mental patient that wasn’t accounted for when Brookline was closed down who are committing all these shocking murders? Could it be a copycat murderer impersonating the serial killer known as The Sculptor? Or, is it just a matter of the evil mental institution warden reincarnated into the body of the mentally unstable protagonist who happens to be his namesake? You see? All of these questions are more than enough to keep you turning the pages to find out why Brookline was closed down in the late 1960s, what sort of grisly experiments were done on the mental patients, and why all these weird and unexplainable things are happening to Abby, Jordan, and Dan. And you know what else? I STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED!!!

It all sounds interesting enough, but the big reveal (which went completely over my head) felt a little rushed and for me it wasn’t such a “wow” reveal at all. The issue I have with Asylum is that it builds up the reader’s expectation for a magnificent conclusion, but then it fails to deliver. I still had a multitude of questions that weren’t answered by the time I turned the final page. And I was also left with a sense of “what the heck just happened?”. Maybe I’m just a bit slow, but I was confused by most of what was happening throughout the book, yet still holding out hope that all will be explained at the end of the story.

But, Asylum does have a few good things going for it, which is why I’m giving it a solid three-star rating:

  • A male protagonist (books in YA with a male voice are so few and far apart, it’s actually worth mentioning).
  • The photos added to the sinister undertone of the story, and made it feel real.
  • No love-triangle or romantic angst, but just a tiny hint of romance in the first half of the book. Nothing noteworthy though.

To sum it up: Asylum had a disappointing conclusion for me, but still it was an intriguing read as the author built up the suspense expertly. Maybe I just need to reread it again in case I missed that one clue that would help me understand the ending – or, in fact, the whole point of the story. The characters were rather bland, and I struggled to care about them. I did, however, enjoy that this is a psychological thriller for YA readers as there are so few books of this sort in this genre. Asylum is a book I’ll recommend to fans of Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood, though that was a way better book than this one, but the feel of this novel is the same as Anna’s. It started off as a promising read, but quickly slowed down and left me disappointed with the conclusion. The ending felt like drinking the last dregs of a cup of tea that had gone cold really quickly. The story had potential and I would of course want to read more books by this author, but sadly, I don’t think I’ll be recommending this one to any of my friends.



MADELEINE ROUX received her BA in Creative Writing and Acting from Beloit College in 2008. In the spring of 2009, Madeleine completed an Honors Term at Beloit College, proposing, writing and presenting a full-length historical fiction novel. Shortly after, she began the experimental fiction blog Allison Hewitt Is Trapped. Allison Hewitt Is Trapped quickly spread throughout the blogosphere, bringing a unique serial fiction experience to readers.

Born in Minnesota, she now lives and works in Louisiana.

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