Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dark Inside

Since mankind began, civilizations have always fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs…Now it’s our turn. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening. An ancient evil has been unleashed, turning everday people into hunters, killers, crazies.
Mason's mother is dying after a terrible car accident. As he endures a last vigil at her hospital bed, his school is bombed and razed to the ground, and everyone he knows is killed. Aries survives an earthquake aftershock on a bus, and thinks the worst is over when a mysterious stranger pulls her out of the wreckage, but she’s about to discover a world changed forever. Clementine, the only survivor of an emergency town hall meeting that descends into murderous chaos, is on the run from savage strangers who used to be her friends and neighbors. And Michael witnesses a brutal road rage incident that is made much worse by the arrival of the police--who gun down the guilty party and then turn on the bystanding crowd.
Where do you go for justice when even the lawmakers have turned bad? These four teens are on the same road in a world gone mad. Struggling to survive, clinging on to love and meaning wherever it can be found, this is a journey into the heart of darkness – but also a journey to find each other and a place of safety.

This was a really fantastic read.
I've been wanting this book for months.  I mean, Jeyn is awesome, the premise is awesome, the cover is awesome, the reviews were awesome, so that all led me to think this would be a pretty freaking awesome book.  And I was not wrong.
There are many things I liked about this book.  It was horrifying and haunting and thought-provoking.  The writing was powerful and even beautiful in certain places. 
But possibly the thing I liked most about this book is one of the reasons I like dystopian/apocalyptic novels in general: I loved seeing just how people, real people, reacted to such a horrible and devastating situation.  Jeyn really took us to the heart of the human spirit and showed us how some can be so courageous in the face of danger, and others so cowardly, and how sometimes, they can be both.  Not all of our characters are heroes.  One of the main characters even commits an extremely selfish act that hurts many others, but the thing is . . . I didn't hate him for it. I thought I would, but I didn't.  Because when I think about it, really think about it, if I had been in that situation . . . would I have done any differently?
The answer is no. No, I probably wouldn't have.
And that's what's so great about this.  There is no pretty sheen to Jeyn's characters.  They are real, intensely flawed human beings, and I love them for it, and I loved seeing just how people changed when tragedy came calling.  Who became the leaders, who became the followers. Who became the heroes, and who became the cowards.  Who couldn't be quite sure what they were.
I only had two problems with this novel.  The first is that some of the dialogue was a bit awkward. The majority of it was actually very realistic, but there were a few lines--mostly ones by Daniel or Chickadee--that just sounded awkward when I tried to say them.  However, I'm going to be lenient here, because despite being unrealistic the lines were really powerful/intriguing.
The second problem is that I still feel a bit left in the dark.  I mean, it's made 100% clear on the last page who Nothing is, though it isn't directly spelled out, but we still have very little information about the Baggers and the evil that's possessed them.  I realize this is only the first book in a series, I just would've liked a bit more information.
But really, overall, this was a stunning debut novel. Harsh, gritty, and surprisingly deep, Dark Inside is a book I would recommend to anyone who likes their books dark.  (That makes me think of coffee.  "Harsh, gritty, in a surprisingly deep cup, Parkland Coffee is a coffee I would recommend to anyone who likes their coffee dark.")
Final note--the cover! I freaking love the cover.  It's so, so fitting.  With the fading, dusty city in the background, the shaded forms, the deep earthquake cracks, the eyes with black veins like the Baggers--it's perfect, and very eyecatching. Bravo, Simon & Schuster!
4 stars.


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