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If a person becomes insane, the insanity rarely stays confined to that person. Rather, family members, friends and even innocent bystanders are drawn into the web of dementia and extreme terror that accompanies the mentally ill or those who have seen something life-changing. It is this idea that makes insanity work well as a novel.
            The novel begins with the narration of a boy named Levi, who encounters a growling dog. The dog is rather small and innocuous, but something about its shadow makes him a little uneasy. The shadow is larger and more aggressive than its owner, its tail taut with tension and primal instinct. What happens next reveals why the dog and its shadow were behaving so, and the rest of the novel follows suit in this fashion --- small details and pieces are given to the reader to piece together before a climactic finish.
            In keeping with insanity’s natural tendency to affect others, the novel is narrated by four different teenagers, each of whom are introduced as the book goes along. None of them are particularly noteworthy, as they unfortunately fall victim to well-defined character clichés and patterns, but it is their interconnectedness that drives the novel forward. As I read the novel and saw the older characters meet up with and interact with the new protagonists, and saw the story becoming more and more chaotic, I found myself attempting to put together a bigger picture. This worked in the novel’s favor, as the location in which the novel takes place --- Never, Kentucky --- becomes home to shades of people better left dead.
In Never, Kentucky, insanity is the only type of sanity.
Lincoln Memorial Hospital, an insane asylum, is particularly intriguing. As the characters find out more and more about their pasts and their familial connections, the hospital itself --- a place where people are supposed to be healed and cared for --- becomes a place of uncertainty and doubt. This adds to the growing sense that in Never, Kentucky, insanity is the only type of sanity.
            While the characters of INSANITY are nothing new, the interconnected world that finds itself spiraling ever downward makes INSANITY an intriguing read. The mystery and development of Never, Kentucky, and Lincoln Memorial Hospital make the world of INSANITY one well worth diving into.

Reviewed by Brandon L., Teen Board Member on February 4, 2014

by Susan Vaught

  • Publication Date: February 18, 2014
  • Genres: Fantasy, Horror
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
  • ISBN-10: 1599907844
  • ISBN-13: 9781599907840