Tuesday, 26 May 2015

'Whispers In The Dark' by Chase J. Jackson

First things first I need to say a huge thank you to Boutique of Quality Books Publishing for accepting my request to review this title on NetGalley, and to NetGalley for the service that they provide. 

*This review will contain spoilers!*

I hadn't read a good YA horror novel in so long that I'd been highly anticipating this one, despite its minuscule length. It follows the story of Adrian, who has just moved back to his childhood home with his girlfriend, Lea, after getting a job at the local private school. When they move in Lea starts feeling as though there is a presence in the house, and when Adrian meets spooky student Robin, his work life gets turned upside down too... The cover was sufficiently spooky, the title evoked menacing imagery and the synopsis sent shivers down my spine, so I was certain I was going to love this one.
However, I ended up being utterly disappointed. The opening scene is of Adrian driving in a car in a thunderstorm, before someone starts choking him from the back seat. Adrian screams out "Ahhhh!", detracting from all of the dramatic tension that had been built up so efficiently, leaving the entire scene feeling flat and unconvincing.
This just continued throughout. Whenever things started to get a bit exciting and the adrenaline levels started rising, someone would shout out "Noooo!" or "Ahhhh!" and it interrupted the entire flow of the story. It would have been so much more effective if the characters hadn't even spoken, instead of wailing in such a stereotypical and unrealistic fashion. Instead of feeling like a polished novel from a published writer, it just made it feel like a creative writing essay from a schoolkid who didn't know any better. This was even further cemented when the word 'really' was repeated five times on one page, and the phrase 'in the office' was repeated three times in one piece of dialogue.
Similarly, some of the subplots don't even get dealt with. After Adrian awakes in his car, he notices that there's a phantom line around his neck, as though he really had been being strangled by something. This is mentioned twice in the first few chapters, never to be referred to again, meaning that it was a completely pointless addition. As well as this, the spooky goings on at Adrian's house are never explained (well, I lie, one of them is) meaning that we never really know if his house was haunted or if it was just his imagination going wild during one of his many vivid (and utterly irritating) dream sequences.
I really want to have at least one good thing to say about this novel, but I'm afraid that there really isn't anything worth mentioning. The characters are interchangeable - none of them really have any defining qualities - the dialogue is boring and too stolidly crafted, and the big twist at the end of the novel is visible from the first chapter due to the stereotypical language surrounding it ("this room is so cold!" signalling the presence of the ghost character at least three times). Furthermore, the moral of the story is beyond preachy - Adrian is a majorly selfish character throughout the book, so at the end of the novel he displayed a compete 180 of his personality and starts being completely selfless, caring more about other people. Sometimes, I don't mind stories that have morals; as long as they are done subtly, so it doesn't feel as though I'm reading some classic fables, I can even enjoy them, because it is good to show that being a good person makes good things happen to you. However, the moral of this story is so blatantly obvious throughout the whole novel that it's like being hit repeatedly in the face by a brick.
I can't really recommend this one at all, unless you're a younger reader - I'm not sure this will appeal to the YA crowd, because it seems too immature, but if this was a younger teen book I think it would go down a lot better. The characters go out and drink in bars, and there are references to underage sex, so it's definitely not written for a younger crowd, but the voice is too childish to really aim any higher. 

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