Monday, March 12, 2012

A book review: Dark Inside

Title: Dark Inside
Author: Jeyn Roberts
Published: Macmillan Children's Books (2 Sep 2011)

Synopsis: Moments after several huge earthquakes shake every continent on Earth, something strange starts happening to some people. Michael can only watch in horror as an incidence of road rage so extreme it ends in two deaths unfolds before his eyes; Clementine finds herself being hunted through the small town she has lived in all her life, by people she has known all her life; and Mason is attacked with a baseball bat by a random stranger. An inner rage has been released and some people cannot fight it. For those who can, life becomes an ongoing battle to survive - at any cost! Since mankind began, civilizations have always fallen - now it's our turn!

This book certainly got me thinking. Before I was even a quarter of the way through I started to examine all the disaster films I have ever seen, and being born in the 70's that makes quite a lot. But my quest was to identify what made me enjoy them, or like the absolutely dreadful Deep Impact made me want to cheer with joy as practically all the mains got blown or washed away. That's right you got it, character. You have to care that Robert Neville in I am Ledgend makes it, hell you even have to shed tears when Sam the dog dies (What? Sorry, you didn't know that?) And then there is one more element that has to be just right. There has to be some little glimmer of hope. Now be it Sean of the Dead or 28 days later, each of these films raised the stakes so it seemed like there was no way out and then provided a little bit of hope. The Road by Cormac MacCarthy also does this brilliantly. So after analysing the disaster genre - and let me get this straight, I've got a pretty wide ranging definition of this genre - I felt I could then get to grips with this book.
Star parts: And Roberts pretty much sticks to the formula. It's a nice sunny day, nobody suspects anything can possibly go wrong, then boom bad things start to happen. The first chapter is particularly interesting, because something bad has already happened, but we are so in Mason's head, taken over by his feelings of grief and numbness, that we don't even realise that bad things are happening. Then Aries is on the bus, what can go wrong on a bus?  Well, (touch wood, despite two years in Mexico and always being in a car or asleep when there were tremors), I don't know what an earthquake feels like, but Roberts description is brilliant. Clementine's nightmare is even worse because she finds herself completely alone and by the time we get to Michael we just know that the beep is going to hit the fan. Throughout the book Roberts action and horror scenes didn't miss a beat, but in true disaster style, at different points throughout the book the characters are saved through selfless acts of kindness. Yay. 

Black clouds: The biggest problem I had was that I didn't find the characters different enough. Aries was in a group whereas Clementine was mostly on her own. Likewise Michael was mostly in a group, whereas Mason mostly went solo. I also found that having the four characters was maybe one too many. The chapters tended to follow a formula, so that by the fourth character the element of surprise was gone. OK, then you may have heard this beef before, but this is part of a series, so although there was that element of hope at the end, the bigger thing, the 'nothing', for me it wasn't addressed enough. 

 Do I recommend it: I think I may have mentioned that as a teenager I overdosed on Clive Barker and Stephen King, so I think Roberts has hit upon what teenagers like to read and she's written it well. So if you are a teenager who likes to read scary, zombie (who are not zombie's) like thing than this is the book for you. Me, I just get scared *runs away screaming waving my hands over my head* 

Oh hang on *runs back from the far distance pretending nothing happened at all*. Before I go, I'd like to say a big thank you to Becky at The Bookette as I won the book at her blog giveaway. 


Sue Hyams said...

I'm no good with scary books, or films, or anything, actually, but this looks like it's worth a read. And, yes, I did cry when the dog died, and wouldn't have watched the film had I known! :-)

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

This certainly gave me food for thought. I'm not usually a disaster-book reader, and wasn't as a teen-ager, either. But I know horror is a great fascination with ten-agers today. It was interesting to get your take on that. Good review.

Michele Helene said...

Hi Sue, I was reading some stuff yesterday because I had forgotten what the dog was called and loads of people didn't go to see it because of that (well the people who commented). It just makes me wonder, because humans (well in 24 especially) are bumped off without a care and yet we still go to see the films. I'm not saying that humans are more important than dogs, I just wonder why people comment and boycott a film where a dog is a character and gets killed, whereas it's OK for say Dexter who is a serial killer to kill off bad guys because he's basically dealing out justice according to his kangaroo court (you may guess that I am not a fan of this series). And Elizabeth, hi, yes why do teens like horror? I think it's because at that age you are invincible and death isn't something you can even begin to contemplate.

Dad Who Writes (Gabriel) said...

Horror and supernatural aren't synonymous, of course - I think the key is suspense and communicating a feeling of helplessness - as well as not messing with the formula unless you're very, very good.

The last MG/YA horror I read was probably one of the endless stream of books Darren Shan produces. I suppose I'd file them under 'craftsmanlike and efficient'.

Michele Helene said...

Do you know I haven't read any Darren Shan!


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