by Robin Wasserman
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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.
Creep-tastic, yep that is the first word that comes to mind after reading The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman. This compelling tale set in Oleander, Kansas will send chills down your spine with its blend of science-fiction and horror. If you recently spent the summer watching, “Under the Dome” by Stephen King. this tale offers a similar yet darker tale that will keep you reading and searching for answers. Three-word review: Spine-tingling, atmospheric and captivating.
From the very first pages, The Waking Dark draws the reader in and doesn’t let go. It begins with what the town later refers to as “Killing Day”. In the course of a few hours, twelve people die by five separate murders. Five individuals witness the horrific incidences and are left baffled. All of the murderers are dead except one and she does not remember a thing. The event shatters the town and is the catalyst for awakening something evil in this small, nowhere town. As things escalate the five survivors of Killing Day are forced to work together, to stop the madness that is unfolding. Wasserman’s tale kept me riveted as I delved into this mind-blowing tale.
Wasserman did an excellent job of fleshing out the characters in this sleepy little Kansas town. She does so by using multiple POVs, and it worked brilliantly. Told in the third person, we instantly recognize each voice while not becoming overly attached allowing the plot to take the stage. The five survivors of Killing Day are like the gang from the Breakfast Club. We have Jule Prevette who lives in the trailer park with her drug-using Mom and her latest husband. She is always on guard from his wondering eyes. Jeremiah West dubbed the “golden boy” is struggling with his own identity and the loss of someone he loved. Cass, the murderer who survived but doesn’t think she should have. Then there is Daniel the son of a deranged preacher and protector of his younger brother, Milo. Ellen King is a bible thumper who communicates with God and holds dark secrets. Grace Tucker is plotting revenge. Of all of the characters, my favorite was Daniel and Jule followed by West. The author makes us privy to their fears and thoughts keeping me engaged. Other characters in town add to the ominous tone and a female doctor raises questions.
The Waking Dark with its high body count and chilling action scenes push the limits on young adult horror. Fans of Stephen King and his quirky characters and chilling tales will enjoy Waking Dark. As events unfold, we beginning to gather information keeping the reader on edge regarding the evil that is overtaking this town. Wesserman delivered a tight, intense tale that doesn’t allow you to set it down after a few chapters, so plan ahead! When the town is quarantined religion, science and government conspiracies help to further unhinge the already unstable town. Questions are raised regarding faith, war, and humanity which added depth. While I am not sure I completely bought the reasons why events occurred, I can tell you it was creepy and thought-provoking. The world-building was beautifully done Wesserman painted both the town and the characters in such a way that I found myself inside the tale tagging along with the characters.
Chilling, dark and one of the best horror books I have read in the young adult genre the Waking Dark is a must-read for fans of the horror genre. Wesserman’s writing style is delightfully captivating, and one I hope to read again soon.
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