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Asylum by Madeleine Roux

He Said/She Said

Asylum by Madeleine Roux

Stereotypically, girl books are pink, have a girl on the cover and FILLED with sickeningly sweet romance. Boy books, on the other hand, are darker, have blood dripping or something more creepy on the cover and there are NO girls to be found. But we all know this isn't true, right? There are books that boys AND girls love!!! Teenreads.com's “He Said/She Said” feature aims to highlight a book each month to discuss its guy and girl appeal.

Last week, we put up a cover survey to ask YOU if you thought ASYLUM by Madeleine Roux looked like a boy book, a girl book or both based on it's cover. Out of all of you who answered, 52% said the book looks like it's a book for boys AND girls, 44% of you said it looked like a girl book and only 4% said it looked like a boy book. It's funny how a book with a boy protagonist can be perceived more as either BOTH boys and girls or just for girls! Let's see what the Teen Board members think!

Here, Omar F. and Cara S. from our Teen Board talk about their thoughts on the book. The twist? They never saw the cover, title or author name! So they are weighing in without the visuals or context which may sway their opinions. Let's see what they have to say!

How would you describe the book?

He Said: This book is full of twisted plots, supernatural events and slight romance. There is not one page in the book that doesn’t cause goosebumps to crawl up my arm. Although the book was really creepy and eerie, the author incorporated what I call the “teenage struggle,” consisting of romance, jealousy and handling your life. The author also put a positive spin on the book, you just have to look for it. It lies within how Daniel Crawford (the protagonist), Abby (his love interest) and his friend Jordan cooperate to solve mysteries and their personal issues.

She Said: I would describe the book as a horror/mystery novel. In it, the intelligent but introverted protagonist Dan goes to a gifted summer camp, where the kids wind up living in a semi-remodeled asylum. Dan and his two new friends get caught up in the mystery of the asylum, which takes on a dark twist when a "sculpted" body is found.

What are three words that you would use to describe it?

He Said: Three words I would use are spontaneous, frightening and heart-warming. The book is spontaneous because the plot of this story is very unique --- it does not build up to a single climax. There are several events that I considered climaxes, and the end of the story set up another build up. The book is obviously frightening. It is filled with death on every page, and is reminiscent of a disturbing past where certain asylum practices were seen as helpful. The illustrations throughout the book were really creepy and helped continue the morbid mood throughout the book. Although the book is really creepy, some things that happen in the book you can’t help but smile about, such as a cheesy flirtatious joke aimed at Abby from Daniel. The bond that kept these friends together is the epitome of a friendship. 

She Said: The three words I would use are creepy, haunted and curious.

What was your favorite part?

He Said: My favorite part was when one of Daniel’s friends is murdered in the style of an escaped asylum prisoner, one who likes to pose the bodies of his victims to portray ironic scenarios. What makes the situation even scarier is that the prisoner had escaped some 60 years earlier and was presumed dead. This brings the paranormal aspect of this book into second gear, and you eventually expect Daniel to look under his bed and say hi to the boogey man.

She Said: I have to say I enjoyed the photos in the book. I've seen that style before in MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN and it can be used in a way that enhances the book (if not overdone). The photos better conveyed the atrocities of the asylum system of the time (believe it or not the book exaggerates a little with this) where inmates were often overcrowded, left in terrible conditions --- half starved and half naked --- and to top it off, were subjected to treatments that are more akin to torture, such as electroshock therapy and lobotomies. 

On a happier note, I also smiled at Felix's dating advice: "your face is symmetrical" and the girl is out of your league by only by a little. Just the pep talk you want to hear.

Did you have a favorite character and if so, what did you like about him/her?

He Said: My favorite character in the book was Abby. I like her character because as the book progressed, I found her to be pretty unpredictable in her actions. I mean, on one page Abby could be on a romantic date with Daniel, and on the next page, she could be shunning him and calling him a heartless jerk. I also like her character because she doesn’t like letting Daniel do all the work; she is one gutsy woman.

She Said: My favorite character in the book was Dan's friend Jordan. He seems to be the sane, practical one of the group, and I adore him for it. Jordan's backstory also makes him a sympathetic and more genuine character, and I appreciate that he did not fall into the stereotypical mold I first assumed of him. Plus, how can you not like a guy who tries to prove that an unsolvable problem is unsolvable?

Would you recommend this book to your friends who are girls? Why?

He Said: I would recommend this book to my friends that are girls, but not all of them. Some of my friends like scary stories so they would love this book because it has gave me a bunch of restless nights full of not-so-fun dreams. For those who like romantic books, I would not recommend it because, although there are some romantic scenes, the majority of the book is about scares and not about finding soulmates.

She Said: Yes, I would recommend it to at least some girls that I know. Not really the ones who are into Sarah Dessen romances but probably some of my friends who prefer fantasy reads or are on the more studious/geeky side like Dan and his friends. Speaking from a girl's perspective, I liked the book and would give it three and a half out of five stars. However, Dan can be rather annoyingly clueless when it comes to girls himself.

Would you recommend this book to your friends who are boys? Why?

He Said: I would recommend this book to my friends that are boys, but not all of them. Some of my friends like mystery stories, so they would love this book because there are a lot of mysteries, puzzles and questions that have to be answered. For those who like action books, this book has a bunch of it, but not in the cars exploding, guns shooting kind of way. The action is more psychological than physical; it’s the kind of mental action you experience when you are in a pitch black room with eerie music on in an abandoned warehouse.

She Said: I would probably recommend it to guys, as well, though it often seems like a majority of the readers at my high school are girls. Seriously, there was not a single guy in the seniors book club at all and very few in the other grades, which is sad. Is it just my community? I will admit though that this book seems like one that could pull in guys more easily than most books I have read recently. I hope to see more books out there with strong characters of both genders and actual non-paranormal romance plots that both guys and girls can enjoy, and this book is a step in that direction.

There you have it! Omar and Cara both recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a spooky mystery. And both recommended that fans of romance should stay away --- what a coincedence!  Do you think YOU are going to pick up a copy of ASYLUM? It will be on sale August 20th.

Asylum
(The Asylum Series #1)
by Madeleine Roux

  • Publication Date: August 26, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult 14+
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0062220977
  • ISBN-13: 9780062220974