Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
Being a fan of supernatural stories, I was excited to dig into this book. Asylum is full of promise--a great setting and an awesome premise; however, it falls short of the mark. Early comparisons to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children seem to be based solely on the fact that both books contain photos; beyond that, any comparisons are unfair.
Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate this book. I finished it in one sitting, but I was hoping for something . . . more. The story begins with Dan, the protagonist having an internal debate as he rides to a special summer program in New Hampshire for gifted and talented students. Because of space issues and such, the high school students are being housed in a renovated (sort of) asylum. Immediately, Dan feels a sort of pull toward the building and readers are given a hint that all may not be as it seems. From there, Dan, an introvert with few friends at his old school immediately becomes best buddies with the artsy and edgy Abby and the treading on being stock or stereotypical Jordan. Abby and Jordan became besties on their bus ride to New Hampshire college when Jordan revealed to Abby that his parents thought he was on his way to a camp to "pray the gay away." There's some forced (and unnecessary) romantic tension between Abby and Dan and then some drama once they decide they do like each other and Jordan gets jealous. Mind you, this is all taking place over the course of several days.
BUT, pushing aside the insta-buds (not quite insta-love) there is a great spooky story. As most teens who find our their dorm is a remodeled asylum would do, our trio goes exploring. They discover a hidden wing and that's when all sorts of strange goings-on begin. Dan finds some creepy photos. Abby becomes entranced by one of the old pictures. Jordan gets the heeby-jeebies. People die. The trio become a sort of Scooby-Gang and decide to investigate. This is the story, this is what will keep readers turning pages. As we learn more about the history of the asylum and the small town surrounding it, the more it becomes apparent that there are wheels within wheels.
Inconsistencies aside, this is a fun weekend read and I will likely read the sequel, mostly because I want to see if Roux develops Jordan's character. He had so much potential but sort of disappears for the middle third of the book. I can't say that I was shocked by the surprise twist ending (either of them) but they did tie the story together nicely while also setting readers up for the sequel.
Fans of light supernatural spookiness will enjoy this book. It will make for a great Halloween read. Fans hoping to find the next Miss Peregrine's will be bitterly disappointed.