Author: Robin Wasserman
Released: September 5th 2013
Paperback, 447 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn't even know why she killed—or whether she'll do it again.Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander's, Kansas—something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself. Jule, the outsider at war with the world; West, the golden boy at war with himself; Daniel, desperate for a different life; Cass, who's not sure she deserves a life at all; and Ellie, who believes in sacrifice, fate, and in evil. Ellie, who always goes too far. They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town—and in themselves.
Robin Wasserman sure knows how to scare a person half to death. As I read The Waking Dark, the evil that jumped at me from every page constantly threatened to overwhelm. This isn’t a book you can finish in a day, it is simply too intense, demanding and sickening at times. Even readers who are fairly desensitized like I am might find themselves troubled by the events described.
It’s obvious that Robin Wasserman owes a literary debt to Stephen King – she even thanks him in the acknowledgements. That slowly rising feeling of dread King is famous for permeates every page of The Waking Dark, making it a far better novel than Wasserman’s previous work, The Book of Blood and Shadows. Although perhaps just a tad too long, The Waking Dark is extremely well structured and excellently paced, with a story that refuses to be left behind and forgotten.
For the people of Oleander, pure evil – or devil, if you will – is not a matter of belief at all. It’s simply a matter of seeing it in someone’s eyes… or even in the mirror. Good people commit unspeakable atrocities at every turn – the very worst part of everyone’s nature has suddenly come out to play. Clearly Wasserman doesn’t pull back punches just because she writes for teens. Her characters may be no more than seventeen years old, but they both suffer and commit horrible acts of violence. And yet, that’s not all that defines them; we see the best and the worst in most of them.
I’m not usually a fan of multiple perspectives, but in this case, the more characters I got attached to, the more people I had to fear for. Although I didn’t spend much time with them individually, each of the character was extremely well-rounded, with his or her own set of difficulties and issues. Caring for their individual fates, as well as the well-being of the entire town, happened to be much easier than I’d originally assumed.
The Waking Dark is an unexpectedly twisted read that reminds of Stephen King’s best works. I strongly recommend it, especially as a Halloween read. Just make sure to read it somewhere safe and warm, with all the lights on.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No consderations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.