{Review/Giveaway} ESCAPE FROM ASYLUM by Madeleine Roux

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O P E N I N G   H O O K:

Escape from Asylum (Asylum, #0.5)
   HE HADN'T WANTED TO be the first. Even the silence of this room sounded like screaming, the scrape of a footstep or the shrill cry of his own doubts in his head, magnifying until he was deafened. It was a good thing to be the first, the warden had assured him. It was an honor. After all, the warden had been waiting for him—for the right person—for such a very long time. Wouldn't Ricky just be a good boy and cooperate? This was special. To be the first, to be Patient Zero, was a privilege.

   But, still, he didn't want to be the first. This room was cold and lonely, and somehow he knew in his marrow, in the wellspring of his humanity, that to be Patient Zero was bad. Very bad.

   To be Patient Zero meant losing himself, not to death, but to something much worse.

(Page 7, US Hardcover Edition)

                   “Just do what they say, Ricky. Take it from me—it's much easier that way. ” 


I love a book that utilizes more than one method to keep the reader's interest. ESCAPE FROM ASYLUM was a quick read for me, but that's not a bad thing. Quick reads can be great, and no less entertaining a ride. ESCAPE FROM ASYLUM, by Madeleine Roux, is a perfect read for this time of year; it's hard to get a creepier setting than an asylum, and the knowledge that the sort of events you're reading about actually happened to people...well...it gives you an extra shiver or too down your spine.

The first thing I'll talk about regarding this book is the formatting, which I found to be quirky and hair raising all at once. Found photos from real aslyums are scattered through the book; some are goosebump inducing, while others are downright disturbing. I'm very visual when it comes to my horror, so this served to give me an extra boost that let me really sink into the right mindset for the story. There is also a moment where you turn to the next chapter and pause, brows furrowed, wondering if you purchased a mis-bound copy. The words are suddenly upside down, an entire chunk of chapters force you to turn the book around and search for where you need to start reading again. It's a very cool way to capture the reader's attention, a tool meant to make you feel as fuzzy brained as the main character does at that point. 

Speaking of characters, let's dive into that next. There's four that I'll highlight briefly; as the most important to the plot, and the most interesting. Ricky Desmond is our main character, and he is painted quite instantaneously as the smooth talking, manipulative, rebellious type. The reader only has to briefly wonder what it is that's gotten him sent to Brookline before it is revealed that he has a problem with his temper, and a tendency to feel attracted to boys as much as girls. In the 1960's when this book was set, being different was considered a form of insanity, which is a horrible thing in and of itself. Ricky is a character I instantly liked; quick witted, intelligent, troubled but you could understand where the chip on his shoulder had come from and why it was there. He forms a quick bond with another patient, Kay, whose birth certificate reads Keith. Like Ricky, it is clear that Kay's sanity is not in short supply, and she too has been sent to Brookline for being different. That righteous sensation of not belonging glues the pair together, though Kay is a much meeker sidekick to Ricky's rebellious desire to act and escape. Nurse Ash is an employee of Brookline, and through much of the story you are left seesawing. Is she friend or foe, another form of victim or an accomplice to the things going on in the asylum? I won't tell you the answer, mostly because it's a bit subjective, but I liked her character quite a lot and found myself sympathizing with her. Then there is The Warden, the very clear villain of this story. Oh he can be charming and enchanting, but he's creepy from the get-go and you are left with a rising feeling throughout the story that he has nefarious intentions for Ricky. What I love is that Ricky pegs The Warden as a villain right from the get-go, but sometimes knowledge is not enough to keep you from being susceptible from influence, especially in an environment where you are helpless. That he points a finger at the villain right away doesn't make things any less dangerous for him.

When it comes to the plot, the thing I ended up liking the most was my own lack of surety in what I was reading. There were moments I wasn't sure if Ricky was having anxiety and medicine induced hallucinations, or if this was turning into a more supernatural ghost story. Being unsure like that helped me get into Ricky's head, made me sympathize with his character more, and as the plot unfolded I felt a lot of the twist and turns a lot more than I might have if I was reading at an emotional distance. On the subject of emotions, let me just say the epilogue left me going "WELL WAIT A MINUTE." The storyline ended a bit abruptly, a bit too easily for me, and I'll admit it left me a little unsatisfied. I turned to the epilogue and suddenly we'd time skipped and gone from Point A to Point B with no idea what happened during the in between. Some people don't like endings like that, but personally, I love a book that makes me want to scream. If I close the last page and I'm angry because I want to know MORE that shows the author did their job and created an engaging plot and characters I invested in.

If you're in the mood for a scary YA read with a plot that isn't overly detailed but still offers plenty of chills, then this book is for you. The other great thing about ESCAPE FROM ASYLUM is that it's a prequel. If you like it, there's more to read, but it serves just fine as a standalone, and not having read the other books doesn't leave you at a disadvantage.

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG13 (There are no direct acts of romance in the book, though Ricky's past sexual experiences are mentioned a few times, and mature aspects of sexuality are handled ie:sexual orientation and gender identity.)
Language: PG ( Language is pretty watered down. No direct cursing in the book. )
Violence: PG13 ( Violence is heavy in this book, of both a physical and psychological nature.)
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I'll say that the cover definitely made me think this was going to be more of a ghost story. But it was okay that I ended up being wrong because in a way the story was rife with ghosts. Ricky's hallucinations tended to feature them, and the asylum's atmosphere is heavy with the metaphorical ghosts of past misdeeds.
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Madeleine Roux
Release Date: 
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends // Macmillan
Received: Purchased

In this terrifying prequel novel to the New York Times bestselling Asylum series, a teen is wrongfully committed to the Brookline psychiatric hospital and must find a way out—before he becomes the next victim of the evil warden’s experiments. With the page-turning suspense and unsettling found photographs from real asylums that led Publishers Weekly to call Asylum “a strong YA debut,” Escape from Asylum is perfect for fans of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. 

The nightmare is just beginning. 

Ricky Desmond has been through this all before. If he could just get through to his mother, he could convince her that he doesn’t belong at Brookline. From the man who thinks he can fly to the woman who killed her husband, the other patients are nothing like him; all he did was lose his temper just a little bit, just the once. But when Ricky is selected by the sinister Warden Crawford for a very special program—a program that the warden claims will not cure him but perfect him—Ricky realizes that he may not be able to wait for his mom a second longer. With the help of a sympathetic nurse and a fellow patient, Ricky needs to escape now. 

Set long before Dan, Abby, and Jordan ever walked the hallways of the Brookline asylum—back when it was still a functioning psych ward and not a dorm—Escape from Asylum is a mind-bending and scary installment in the Asylum series that can stand on its own for new readers or provide missing puzzle pieces for series fans.

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