Crazy House by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

“A thrilling new YA novel from master of suspense James Patterson, who’s created a frightening new future: a world where teens are taken, imprisoned and forced to fight for their survival. Where 17-year-old Cass will do whatever it takes to save her twin sister from Death Row.

There were no charges. There was no trial. There will be no escape.

Seventeen-year-old Becca Greenfield was snatched from her small hometown. She was thrown into a maximum-security prison and put on Death Row with other kids her age. Until her execution, Becca’s told to fit in and shut her mouth… but Becca’s never been very good at either. Her sister Cassie was always the perfect twin.

Becca’s only hope is that her twin sister will find her. That perfect little priss Cassie will stop following the rules and start breaking them, before it’s too late. Because her jailers made a mistake that could get them both killed:

They took the wrong twin.”

-Synopsis from Goodreads

Hello! Allison here. Now that school is over, I am finally ready to read to my heart’s content!

I would like to start off by saying that I received this arc from the publisher in January at ALA Midwinter 2017. Thank you to the publisher’s for this opportunity. I want to mention now that this means any complaints I have may already be addressed in the completed version (ex: the ARC is only 296 pages while the actual book is 368 pages)

Stars (out of 10): 6/10

Overall Thoughts: The best way to summarize my thoughts is “cliche, but entertained”. This book gets straight to the point in James Patterson’s famous way of writing. Despite being your usual dystopia, I was hooked to the point that I could barely put it down. I felt like I was watching a movie as the action went on. If you have read Patterson’s books before, you’ll definitely like this one.

The Good: Despite being the usual dystopian universe, there are some twists and turns I wasn’t expecting. The book gets straight to the point with very little downtime. Every scene, at least in the first three quarters, has a point to it. For this reason it was an easy read. The characters were realistic in the way that they reacted to their situations, because honestly, if you were kidnapped you wouldn’t just be like, “Yes, let me do everything you say”. You would pull a Becca and be like “What is going on? Where am I? What do you mean don’t do this?”

The Bad: This book felt like it was missing something, and that’s because it is. There is a reason there were around 70 pages added to the final edition. While there is romance, it is badly done. There is no build up, especially for Becca’s love interest. While Cassie and her love interest get a little more build up, they just aren’t given enough time to explore the depths of their relationship. Likewise, the characters felt flat in some ways. They felt like they were instruments of the plot rather than the plot was their instrument to play and change as they like. It should be the character’s personalities and motivations that make the plot. You shouldn’t be able to answer a question “Why did that character just do that?” with “Because the plot said so.”

MAJOR SPOILERS BEGIN BELOW

The Characters: Despite my complaints, Becca and Cassie were interesting. I love Becca’s point of view, especially when she first gets kidnapped. She doesn’t just take it. She keeps asking questions. Cassie is also badass. Despite being the “careful one”, she rightfully does everything in her power to try to get her sister back. I also like how the Kid didn’t just saddle along in the end, he has a family and a home too. It’s a lot more realistic that he left after he got out. Nate is also cool despite his very few personality traits. At least he actively tried to rescue the twins.

The Plot: Okay, so it is my firm belief that the ending makes the book. It is what decides what was important in the book and brings everything together. This book’s ending was a cop out at best. People are disappearing? Interesting. There is a prison they are disappearing too? Cool. This prison has death row? Intriguing. It turns out that the people aren’t dying but actually are being sent to a different prison that isn’t actually prison and run by the crazy lady who tortured kids? Wait what?! This is where my biggest complaint is. The ending just doesn’t add anything to the story. It feels rushed. Plus, the plot twist at the end has been done so many times before, it felt like it was just copy and pasted and the names were replaced with the name of protagonists. It doesn’t solve the main problem of the book. It also doesn’t help that it is a cliffhanger and there appears to be no promise of a sequel to remove the characters from the cliff.

Likewise, there is a subplot that adds nothing to the story and doesn’t turn into anything more. This subplot is the fact that Becca got raped in the past. While this means Becca miscarries in the book, it barely affects Becca. She is strong the entire time, runs to romance the second she can, and is only sad for a very short while after she miscarries. The most this subplot seems to do is to give us hints that Ms. Strepp is not all bad since she murders the rapist.

While I have these complaints about the ARC, I have no idea what changes and what remains the same in the final edition. Therefore any complaints I may have may already be fixed. In fact, some of the things I have mentioned may already be removed from the book entirely.

Favorite Character: Becca

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