The moment I heard that Stephanie Perkins was coming out with a horror book, especially one described as Scream meets YA, I knew would be picking it up almost as soon as it was released. I was so curious and so excited to see Stephanie Perkins dive into a completely different genre from her previous books, and couldn’t wait to see what she created outside of her comfort zone.
And, unfortunately, I was really disappointed by it. This book didn’t live up to any of my expectations, and overall I was just really underwhelmed by it.
(I have alot of thoughts about this book, so be prepared for a very long review!)
Most of my problems with this book come from the fact that I went into it expecting a horror book.
Yes, this book does include a murder mystery/ slasher story, but unlike what I was expecting, it feels almost like a unnecessary sub-plot rather than the main story. Instead, the majority of this book follows Makani and her relationship with Ollie, which I would have been more okay with if this had not been so heavily marketed as a horror book.
And even then, I wasn’t a huge fan of the horror elements.
I could definitely see the Scream inspiration coming through, but I just found all of the aspects of this to be quite poorly executed, and so just had no where near the same affect as they should have had. This book didn’t create suspense very well until very near the end, mainly because pretty much all of the characters who were murdered we hardly knew. Yes, maybe the first death could be someone we don’t know, but from then on not knowing the characters means there is no tension or threat to the characters we do know.
Another problem I had with this book was with how it tried to create horror and be scary. Because it didn’t create suspense, this book had to rely solely on gore and pretty graphic murders to create this fear, when in reality I just found these scenes overly graphic and detailed for no apparent reason.
Not only was there almost no suspense throughout this book, but I was also so let down by all of the reveals in this book. There were two big mysteries, the identity of the killer, and Makani’s secret from her past, that ran throughout the book, and both of these ended up being very anti-climatic and did not live up to the tension that had been created leading up to their reveals. If your going to try and create suspense, don’t reveal your killers identity halfway through the book. On top of that, the killer’s motive was just so bad and did not really make much sense to me at all.
As much as I did have a lot of problems with the horror aspects of this one, I still don’t think they would have bothered me anywhere near as much had I really enjoyed some of the other aspects of this book. I have to admit, I did enjoy seeing some other plot points woven into the story, such as Grandma Young’s sleepwalking problem, and Makani’s problems with her parents, but still felt that these were very underdeveloped and almost just added in as filler. So many different aspects were introduced, but not resolved or discussed later on in the book, and so I feel like their potential was just lost. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the writing, as even though it wasn’t particularly bad or didn’t make it harder for me to read this book, it still felt just a little immature at a few points.
And so, onto the romance, which was likely one of the largest elements of this book. I enjoyed it for what it was, but honestly I didn’t love it anywhere near as much as I would have liked to, especially from a book written by an author whose romances I have adored in the past. It wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t anything special, and just felt very bland and generic for me.
Anyone who knows me knows my obsession with characters. Even if a book has an awful plot or writing style, if its characters are incredible and complex beauties, then I will most likely still enjoy the book.
Unfortunately though, this book didn’t save itself on characters.
Throughout the entire book, we only really saw the development of two characters, Makani and Ollie, with everyone else almost just pushed aside and only mentioned when it was absolutely necessary. Even characters like Alex and Darby still felt very flat and 2-dimensional for me, and by the end of the book I felt like I didn’t know them much better than I had at the beginning. Makani and Ollie were slightly more developed and fleshed out, but even they were not particularly memorable or unique characters. I felt like I had read about them a fair few times before, and definitely didn’t connect with them much at all, and honestly just didn’t find them to be that likeable either.
However, one aspect I did enjoy was the diversity.
I really loved reading about a diverse main character, as well as having a transgender character be one of the main side characters in this book. I rarely see transgender characters in books, so I was really happy to see this representation in this one, even if I do think his character could have been developed a little bit further. I also liked seeing panic attacks and anxiety very lightly mentioned, even if again I would have preferred to have seen it touched on a little more and not just brought up to push along the plot.
Again on a slightly more positive note, I do have to give it some credit for the ending.
Unlike the rest of this book, the last fifty pages actually created some suspense and did have a little bit of that fear factor that I was looking for the whole way through. For the first time, I felt nervous for the characters, and found that the horror depended a little less on gore and more on the tension that was being created. Unfortunately, I did still find some events that happened a little unrealistic, although that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the last fifty pages alot more than the rest of the book.
So, overall this definitely was not the book I was expecting it be. If you want a romance that includes a little bit of horror and are okay with a fair bit of gore, then this one may be for you. Unfortunately though, this was not the book for me, as I just found so many elements to be either underdeveloped or just quite badly executed, although I am still curious to see what Stephanie Perkins will write next.