Cover image and summary from Goodreads:
For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it’s a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.
As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it’s no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.
Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux’s teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.
Asylum has been on my radar for a while. I’m definitely drawn to YA paranormal stories, and this sounded right up my alley. I also liked Roux’s Allison Hewitt is Trapped when I read it last year.
I was intrigued by the use of photos in this book. I didn’t really like the way something similar was done in another book I read that employed photos, but I didn’t care overall for that other book, so maybe that’s part of why the photos didn’t work for me. On the other hand, I read Cat Winters’ In the Shadow of Blackbirds for book club and really liked that book, and thought it made effective use of photographs.
Asylum‘s use of photos falls somewhere in the middle for me. At times the photos added to the creepy atmosphere and tension of the story, but sometimes they felt clumsily plunked into the book.
As for the story, I really liked it, for the most part. The setting was awesome, and with Dan being part of a college prep program, the idea of being in a creepy place and also not knowing anyone around him added a sense of unease to the story.
The romance was cute, and I liked the friendship that developed between Dan, Abby, and Jordan.
Where things fell apart for me was the ending. I wasn’t satisfied with the explanation, and with the parts of the story that went unresolved.
However, I had fun with this book and read it all in one day. I’ve already got the sequel, Sanctum, on my bookshelf, and am looking forward to reading it!