Title: The Waking Dark
Author: Robin Wasserman
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: September 10, 2013
Release Date: Hardcover; 464
Content Screening: Violence; Adult Language
HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who are okay with dark, disturbing reads. This features plenty of violence.
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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.
Holy YA Batman. Seriously. The Waking Darkabsolutely blew me away. Those of you who were following along with me as I read might have noticed it took me a while to finish. Trust me when I say that it's not because this book isn't fantastic, because it absolutely is. I'll explain more below, but let's just say this isn't necessarily an easy read. I thought I was desensitized to violence, what with how much horror I read. This book tested that theory. It's dark and disturbing. You've been warned.
See here's the thing, it's the characters that suck you in. Each one of them is so very different. You have your jock, your church girl, your outcast, and more. If this sounds a bit like The Breakfast Club, let me assure you that it couldn't be farther from the truth. The thing is that each one of these characters has a full, rich back story. They each have a series of events that have led them to be what they are now, and a ton of buried secrets that you slowly uncover along with them. I was a slave to the pages. I had to know what happened to these characters. It was amazing.
That's just the surface though. The plot of The Waking Dark is equally impressive. Imagine your average town in the middle of nowhere. The one where everyone knows everyone else, and for the most part people are content to get along. Now imagine that same town going stark raving mad. It was intriguing how Robin Wasserman set this up. I hesitate to say too much, since I don't want to spoil anything, but every person in this book never stops being themselves. They just give in to the parts of themselves that they never let see the light of day before. That's what makes the story terrifying. It's also what makes it so hard to look away from.
This book is sad. It's violent and twisted. It's filled with bad things that happen to good people and, even more difficult, young people. This is what made this such a long read for me. I couldn't stop reading, and yet I had to because no one in this book ever gets a break. Really, nothing ever seems to go right. The Waking Dark stirred up emotions in me that I wasn't expecting.
So yes, I highly recommend Robin Wasserman's beauty of a book. It's not going to be the right fit for a lot of people, but it definitely was for me. Five gold stars go to The Waking Dark, and onto my favorites list it goes.