Source: Knopf Books/Netgalley – I received this in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation.
Publisher: Knopf Books
Edition: eARC, 464 pages
Genre: Young Adult Horror
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
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.
The Waking Dark is a book that draws you in and absolutely refuses to let you go, even though it’s 2am and you don’t want to have nightmares. Tough luck, you’re getting them anyway and don’t think you’ll just read it during the day…because when you look at the clock after a few chapters it’s going to be nighttime. Unless your luckier than I am.
From the very beginning Wasserman paints a very creepy, sudden, and violent picture. We lose a ton of characters before we even know the story and suddenly it feels vital to continue on and figure out what exactly is going on in this little town in the middle of no where Kansas. There is a very small ‘lull’ in the events giving us time to learn and care for the group of kids the povs follow, but it doesn’t take long for things to get amped up again and sudden it’s a full on nut house for most of the story. It’s detailed and above all things it’s creepy. For me reading it was like a mad dash, which was partially due to it being read during a readathon but also due to the fact that I just didn’t want to put it down. The events of the story barely slowed down and there was no real time for a mind breather, which in terms of this novel I consider that a plus.
I did have some trouble toward the beginning distinguishing when the story turned to follow another character, but overall I liked the way it was written. There is so much detail and I loved the realness of the town, even while the creepy stuff was happening. The human nature in this is pretty spot on and I loved the fact that as you get farther into the books things become incredibly amplified and though it’s clearly a level that most people would never see in their friends and family, it’s still a realistic reaction. It deals with the grit and negative of humanity, while subtly showcasing some of the best characteristics. I’m also a fan of that fact that I didn’t learn what really happened until towards the end of the book, because by that point everything is already so messed up you’ve gotten the full effect of the insanity without the weight of an explanation. I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t totally fond of the explanation, but since it came so late in the story it barely affected my opinion of the overall book. The characters were really well done and I appreciated seeing how others viewed each other and having that two-sided view point.
I think I could talk on and on about this one, because there is just so much to praise and point out. So I’m going to cut myself short and just say, it’s one of the best horror books I’ve read in the YA category. I will say that if your sensitive to horrible things happening to people then you should probably skip it, there is also some drug usage which I know some people just don’t go for in books. Overall I really enjoyed it and I’m really impressed with how well The Waking Dark turned out.